COVID-19: JIA reporting up to 7,000 travelers a day as pandemic slows down

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Things are looking up for the travel industry. Recent polling by Civic Science reveals nearly two-thirds of people are planning to travel in the next six months; and of those, almost a third of them will be flying.

The Jacksonville International Airport reports an average of 4,000 to 7,000 travelers a day — many more than this time last year, when only hundreds came through the airport daily.

”You’re able to go out and have your own freedom and do your own thing,” Austin Jones told Action News Jax.

Jones just got back from visiting family in Tucson, Arizona. It’s been six months since he’s flown anywhere.

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”People are coming to see their family that they haven’t seen in a year, hang out with friends, that kind of stuff. But [we] still haven’t seen that return of business travel. That’s expected to take a little longer,” airport spokesperson Greg Willis said.

But things aren’t completely back to normal, pre-pandemic times just yet. Travel expert Scott Lara says “vaccination passports” are starting to be developed.

”In Europe and the United States, companies are trying to develop a COVID passport ... but as of now, the government in the United States has not finalized anything like that,” Lara said.

Lara adds that people will most likely need to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel most places.

Just this week, the European Union announced plans to allow fully-vaccinated American tourists into the EU this summer.

”Mark my words, the United States will be going to that,” Lara said.

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Action News Jax asked Jones for his take on vaccine passports. He sees both sides to the argument.

”To me, I wouldn’t mind it,” he said. “I’m kind of in the mindset that I don’t really have a say because I’m in the military. I just do what I’m told. It is what it is.”

Like many others, Jones can’t wait to get back to normal.

In the meantime, JIA is slowly getting closer to “normal” again. Willis says the airport has reopened its economy parking lot for travelers to park for $6 a day.

The airport is also hosting a job fair at its DoubleTree hotel. The job fair will take place on May 11.