FARGO — The Transportation Security Administration recently screened 1 million travelers in a single day, the highest number since March, and Hector International Airport is doing better than the rest of the country.
Fargo Municipal Airport Authority Executive Director Shawn Dobberstein said, like the rest of the U.S., air travel at Hector plummeted when the pandemic hit.
There were 58,000 fliers in Fargo in March. That number fell 97% to barely 4,000 in April.
The number of airline passengers is now back to between 32,000 to 36,000 people.
"I didn't believe that we would get to the 50% level until about the Christmas timeframe, but we're certainly tracking well ahead of what the national statistics are," he said.
Nationally, airports are seeing roughly 40% of passenger traffic compared to 2019.
Dobberstein said 95% of people traveling are doing so for leisure.
"We've had a number of people who have spoken to us and said, 'Well unfortunately, we've been through it, we've had it, now we've tested negative. We want to fly. We want to travel. We want to go places,'" he said.
In contrast, the number of people traveling for business is lower than ever.
"Maybe they found a new way of doing business, unfortunately for airports. But at the same time, they're staying safe," Dobberstein said.
Harvard released results of a gate-to-gate study Tuesday, Oct. 27. The study says it found a number of factors contribute to a lower risk of getting COVID-19 on a plane.
More frequent cleaning, mandatory mask wearing on board and social distance protocols all contribute to keeping transmission low.
Planes also have a highly effective ventilation system that continuously circulates a supply of fresh air, keeping the virus count in the air low.
Marco Charles arrived in Fargo all the way from Monterrey, Mexico. He sat in a plane for more than five hours during his flight on Tuesday.
He's heading to Wahpeton for a work truck, then driving the 1,500 miles back home. He said traveling by air wasn't a problem for him.
"Everything is OK. I see all the people that have the masks, and I feel good," Charles said.