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Jump in COVID cases causes some passengers to reconsider holiday flights

Tampa International Airport reports traffic this year over last is down about 50 percent.

TAMPA, Fla — After months of passenger growth at Tampa International Airport, some airlines report they are, once again, seeing a slight dip in traffic as customers have second thoughts about traveling for Thanksgiving due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

TPA reports they saw nearly 40,000 passengers last Sunday, the largest number since the pandemic began, but that’s still about 50-percent down from the nearly 80,000 passengers a day last year at this time.

Now, companies like Southwest Airlines say they’re seeing a slight uptick in cancelations likely due to growing concern over the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide.

“We’re seeing cases go up in Florida and the Tampa Bay region and really around the globe,” said Tampa International Airport spokesperson Emily Nipps. “It’s making people hesitate to travel, and we understand that.”

The airport uses travel bookings to project how many passengers they’ll see in future months but with unexpected cancelations and even airlines canceling some flights, there's growing uncertainty over just how busy the airport will be leading into December.

For now, the airport is predicting a slow recovery unless some sort of event, like the quick rollout of a new vaccine, gives passengers more confidence to immediately start flying again.

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