AUSTIN (KXAN)–Austin-Bergstrom International Airport reported the highest passenger activity in December since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In a report released Thursday, ABIA said 515,962 passengers flew– an increase due to the holiday season. ABIA flights “dropped dramatically” by 96.6% back in April 2020.

“That continued increase in passengers is due in part to the airport’s robust health and safety measures and a growth in passenger confidence that we’re optimistic will continue throughout 2021,” said Jacqueline Yaft, Chief Executive Officer of ABIA.

The air passenger total was up 6,562 passengers (1.3%) from last November. Despite more flights, December was down 65 percent from 2019. ABIA reported that 2020 had the lowest passenger rates for the airport since 1999.  

While passenger flights are slowly increasing, Air Cargo increased by more than 20% over 2019. ABIA said this reflects the Austin region’s recovering economy.  

“Growth in AUS air cargo operations reflects demand for e-commerce goods and pandemic response necessities,” said Gina Fiandaca, City of Austin Assistant City Manager over Mobility. “These cargo numbers also reflect Austin’s strong economy, the resiliency of our community, and the airport’s ability to support continued growth in this area.” 

A major contributor to this growth was the start of new cargo operations by Amazon Air early in the year. 

ABIA data shows despite increases, December flights were approximately half of January and February flights.