ROANOKE, Va. – Airport passengers are starting to fly again as Virginia’s COVID-19 cases continue to decline.
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport reports its passenger traffic to start the spring is 60% of what it would have been before the pandemic.
In April 2020, only 1,823 passengers flew into and out of Roanoke.
The vast majority of passengers are leisure travelers, as business travel remains nearly non-existent.
The airport’s director of marketing, Brad Boettcher, said lower fares and increased COVID-19 vaccinations are the main reasons for the rise in travel.
“It’s just getting people with shots in arms who are comfortable getting out and traveling again,” Boettcher said. “There certainly is a lot of pent-up demand and we appreciate the support we’ve received from the community during the pandemic.”
New River Valley Health Director Noelle Bissell said it’s okay for people to travel, as long as they don’t engage in high-risk activities while doing so.
“What we’ve been saying all along is that it’s not where you go, it’s your behavior and what you do,” Bissell said. “The weather is improving and people do want to get out.”
Boettcher does not expect the airport to experience pre-pandemic levels of passenger traffic until next year.