ORLANDO, Fla. – While still far from normal, new numbers show traffic at Orlando International Airport more than doubled in May compared to the previous month, airport officials said.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the airport has seen a significant drop in the number of travelers passing through OIA.
Numbers show that in May, a total of 369,109 passengers either boarded or stepped off of a plane at Orlando International Airport, a 91.53% drop in total traffic for the month. However, airport officials say they saw more than 214,000 more passengers at OIA that month than in April.
Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Phil Brown attributed the increase in travelers to a number of factors.
“May was the beginning of the slight uptick in traffic that we’ve been seeing at Orlando International,” he said. “More airlines providing service, fewer cancellations and more people feeling comfortable with flying again all contributed to the better news.”
To give some perspective, Brown said at one point during the pandemic, OIA saw only 1,500 people a day and a 96-97% reduction in traffic.
Brown joined News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly” to talk about the significant financial impact the pandemic has had on the airport.
“72% of our operating revenue from 2019 came from rental cars, parking and concessions and those have been at minimal levels,” Brown said.
Brown said he’s hopeful that more people will visit Central Florida as the theme parks reopen at partial capacity, including Walt Disney World, which is set to begin its phased reopening on Saturday.
Since May’s uptick in travelers, Florida has seen a spike in the number of coronavirus cases reported statewide.
In the last seven days, the Sunshine State has reported more than 65,000 new cases of COVID-19.
Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 260 airport employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus. However, Brown later provided clarity on the governor’s statement, saying not all of the infected were airport employees and were instead traceable connections to the workers who tested positive for COVID-19.
[RELATED: Florida governor says 260 Orlando airport workers tested positive for COVID-19. OIA says not quite | Orlando airport executive provides clarity after governor’s COVID-19 statement on airport workers]
Brown said the airport hopes to gain passengers’ trust with robust cleaning, offering contactless transactions, requiring passengers and employees to wear masks and practicing CDC guidelines. He adds they are doing everything they can to make people feel safe and comfortable.
Travelers can now also purchase a variety of masks, hand sanitizers and other personal protective equipment from vending machines at OIA.