FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Like many airports around the country, the Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) is anticipating higher levels of foot traffic this Memorial Day weekend.
Flights for various airlines are booked, if not almost booked, for the 3-day weekend. Executive Director Scott Hinderman says holiday and leisure travel has remained consistently high, even with COVID-19 restrictions in place at the same time last year.
“From holiday to holiday, this is clearly one of our busier ones over the last 18 months.”
Meanwhile, staff are reminding travelers about a federal mask mandate in place at all airports, regardless of one’s vaccination status. Hinderman says most local travelers have been compliant with the federal order.
“People are just excited to get back to normal,” he said. “if they have to put a little bit of mask on for a period of time while they’re at the airport, they understand now.”
With Memorial Day considered the unofficial start to summer, Hinderman expects travel to approach pre-pandemic levels over the next several months. According to Hinderman, flight capacity last April was at 81% of the flight capacity in April 2019. With pandemic restrictions loosening around the country, Hinderman believes business travelers will also return in droves.
“The key is the business traveler who’s going to start returning here pretty quickly in the third or fourth quarter this year,” Hinderman said. “Some time next year, I think we’ll hit our pre-pandemic level of passengers.”
Even with some restrictions still in place, Hindeman feels the rise in air traffic reflects how people are more comfortable with doing activities they were doing before the pandemic, like travelling.
“It feels good for 2021 to get 2020 behind us, get us back into a normal environment,” Hinderman said. “We’re seeing traffic coming back very nicely.”