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Local 12:  Airports seeing more travelers as vaccination rates increase

Local 12-WKRC TV / Brad Underwood / May 10, 2021

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The path out of the pandemic is becoming clearer at airports around the country. Right now, air travel is the busiest it's been since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

Leisure travel is coming back much more quickly than expected in part because half the country's adults have at least one COVID vaccination shot.

"For the year, we will see about 55 to 60% of the volume that we saw in 2019. Specifically for the summer months, we are looking at about 70 or 80%. We are seeing a pickup. We know summer travel will be busy," said Mindy Kershner with CVG.

On a national level, the numbers are similar. A look at passengers on May 9 over the years has the numbers breaking down like this: In 2019, there were 2.4 million passengers. In 2020, it was just 200,000. And in 2021, there were 1.7 million passengers.

"We have two new airlines and seven new routes, some brand new routes starting, so airlines are trying new things,” said Kershner.

And there are also the new ads from Alaska Airlines where flight attendants sing a song about disinfecting services and air filters.

The big question is what will business travel look like moving forward? To find out, CVG is partnering with the UC Economics Center to survey business travelers.

"We’re asking people whether or not they’ve traveled for business or pleasure in the last year or two, as wells as what their intention is moving forward,” said Christopher Nicak, the director of research at the UC Economics Center.

The survey is roughly 30 questions and you can remain anonymous. A previous nationwide survey by insurance company Chubb indicates roughly 54% of business travelers are OK with domestic air travel.

Nicak says this study will reveal higher numbers and provide a look into the future.

“I think having some better information locally in the Greater Cincinnati area will help business leaders make better decisions moving forward on when to plan events, conferences, people return to work full-time or stay in a hybrid schedule,” said Nicak.