Airports prep for busy summer travel season

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer, and with COVID restrictions lifted throughout the state a busy summer travel season is expected.

“So many people are willing to start some of that revenge travel if they did not do it last summer, this summer,” said Andrew Shorter, airport director at Carolina Coastal Regional Airport. “We’re averaging about four flights a day with 65 seats airplanes, so about 300 seats a day.”

New Bern’s airport is also adding a new direct flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington DC this summer.

“This is a real boom for us in this somewhat uncertain environment for the airlines to land a new flight with a new destination,” Shorter said. “It’s gonna be a busy summer.”

As the summer travel season picks up, health experts say COVID numbers are rising as well.

“The percentage actually isn’t going up a little bit, it’s going up a lot,” said Dr. David Harlow, Vice President of Allied Health for ECU Health. ÔÇťAbout a month ago we were seeing about a 5 to 6% positivity rate and right now, as of May 31, it was actually 40%.

“Having been in an airport over the weekend with all the people that were with delayed flights is very alarming to me,” Harlow added. “When you merge together in a crowded airport that is just a recipe for spikes in COVID.”

Shorter said EWN is still taking precautions to keep passengers safe.

“We’re cleaning more, we have the hydro-static sprayers and we still have our think about social distancing signs up,” Shorter said.

Right now masks aren’t required in airport terminals or on planes. Harlow suggested passengers wear masks when in a crowded airport.

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