TAMPA, Fla. - After months of uncertainty surrounding air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, more suitcases are rolling their way through Tampa International Airport this fall.
Tampa International Airport spokesperson Emily Nipps said the airport actually saw an uptick in passengers starting in October.
Just as more people pick up their bags to fly again, 40 flights are coming to TPA throughout the month of November from airlines Southwest, United, and JetBlue.
“A lot of these are routes we’ve had in the past that we lost in the spring and summer,” Nipps said. “But some of them are new routes which is interesting because the airlines are using this opportunity to kind of reconfigure their routes.”
That’s a relief for passengers who fly out of Tampa for work.
“A lot of times I have to go from Atlanta to wherever else I have to go and there used to be direct flights. So, if I wanted to go from Birmingham, Alabama, they had canceled those flights. So hopefully now they’ll reinstall those flights,” said frequent flier Charles Haley.
As people wait for more options, holiday travel is a couple of weeks away.
“We’ve seen maybe 30% to 40% of our traffic come back. We think that will increase during the holidays, but again that all depends on how people feel about COVID-19 and increasing cases in this country,” said Nipps.
But not everything is uncertain. TPA leaders said work on expanding the airport is on track.
“Our construction has actually been moving along pretty quickly because we’ve had less traffic, less cars on the road, less people in the way,” said Nipps.
While Tampa Bay prepares for the holidays and the upcoming Super Bowl, airport officials said they hope to get some of the anticipated traffic back while encouraging safe travel.
The pandemic forced the airport to work with less, but Nipps said they plan to keep looking for new ways to improve and keep travelers safe.