Traveling during the pandemic: A look inside Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will release flight numbers for March next week. They’re expecting the data to show around a 50% drop — the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A look inside one of Monica’s flights to Maui. (KXAN photo/Candy Rodriguez)

“From a public health perspective, that’s encouraging for us,” said Bryce Dubee, the airport’s public information specialist. “It means folks are choosing only to travel when it is essential, but we do miss our travelers.”

The toll of the pandemic is hard to ignore. On a daily basis, the airport has lost about 90% of its traffic from nearly 30,000 travelers each day to around 1,000.

“It’s the biggest change in the industry since 9/11,” Dubee said.

Some travelers, like Monica Alvidrez, have to travel for work.

“Texas is my home and Maui is my temporary paradise,” Alvidrez said. She accepted a teaching position in Maui for the school year. She never imagined she would finish out her first year in Hawaii online.

“I am teaching remotely,” she said. “I have to stay up later because it’s a five-hour difference.”

The Round Rock neighbor was allowed to stay in Texas for 30 days following the closure of schools for the Maui District in March. Since then, Alvidrez has been teaching classes online. The district told Alvidrez she had to return to Hawaii to wrap up the school year. Alvidrez said if she did not have to travel for work she would be home.

“No, definitely not,” she said.

While the numbers for March and April are expected to show a major dip in traffic for the airport, officials are hopeful for the future. They admit they are concerned what the implications from the drop in travelers could mean for the aviation industry, but there’s still too much uncertainty in what could be ahead.

“Right now, it’s really too soon to speculate any long term impacts,” Dubee said.

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