NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Travelers are slowly returning to the skies above the Charleston International Airport. The encouraging news for airport officials comes just as the holiday season approaches, and officials say it’s an encouraging sign.
Current passenger counts are roughly one third of the normal average, but airport leaders say the numbers are steadily increasing from where they were earlier this year.
“We’re encouraged, the numbers are coming back up slowly but surely,” says Elliott Summey who serves as the CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. “We’re doing better than most of the country as far as recovery, we’re about ten points higher than most other airports.”
While travel is down, upgrades at the airport have continued to march forward, and Summey says he’s hopeful for a stronger month in November:
“As people are coming in for their holiday travel, for Thanksgiving, they’re going to see the airport looking a lot more like it used to.”
Among the upgrades coming to the Charleston International Airport is a state-of-the-art parking garage set to open in November:
“It feels more like a building than it does a parking garage, it’s very open and airy,” says Summey. “Lots of natural light so it feels safe, we’re using a lot of technology in our garage.”
While airport officials are eager for an increase in passenger numbers, some travelers say the reduction does have some benefits:
“I feel like it definitely does help especially with the social distancing,” says Hailee Servais, who recently traveled through Charleston International Airport. “If it was more crowded, everybody is more hyper about it.”
Servais believes the airport is taking the right measures to keep passengers safe.
“I feel okay. I mean, everybody has their mask on [and is] keeping a pretty good distance.”
But, she says staying healthy is a responsibility for both the airport and passengers alike:
“Just try to social distance as much as possible, wash their hands, keep their masks on,” says Servais. “Just be cautious about it and considerate of others.”
On Tuesday, Charleston International Airport was ranked among the top ten airports in the country by Conde Nest Traveler. Summey says the hard work to keep passengers healthy while continuing upgrades likely played a role in the designation.