Travel makes major comeback at Columbia airport 1 year after start of COVID pandemic

·2 min read

Midyear figures from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport show how flights and passenger numbers have recovered from the depths of the pandemic.

The number of people flying out of Columbia rose month-on-month throughout the first half of the year — and are soaring above where those numbers were at this time last year, at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown.

To date, 347,157 people have taken off from Columbia in 2021 through the end of June, according to figures released by the airport on Thursday. And June was the busiest month for the airport this year.

In January, when coronavirus case numbers were high and the vaccine was not yet widely available, only 37,007 people went through the terminals of the airport in Lexington County — a continuation of the COVID-induced slump in the number of people flying. That number more than doubled last month, when 83,289 people flew out of the airport.

A year earlier, only 28,925 passengers took off from Columbia in June 2020. This June’s figures are an almost 188% increase in the airport’s monthly passenger figures.

The airport saw numbers rise after April of this year, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared passengers who had been vaccinated for flying without having to test for the coronavirus. Masks are still required for travelers at the airport, though.

In March 2020, when the first impacts of COVID-19 were felt in the Palmetto State, flights into Columbia dropped by 29%. The Midlands saw direct flights to New York City and Miami canceled, and cutbacks in the number of flights to regional hubs like Atlanta and Charlotte as well as Washington, D.C.

Today, the airport has regular flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Washington. But the airport still has a ways to go to reach its 2019 total of 1.3 million flyers.

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