RDU expects significantly fewer passengers during holiday season compared to 2019

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As the holiday season begins to somewhat ramp up during the coronavirus pandemic, the Triangle's largest airport saw a 71% decrease in passengers for the month of October in comparison to last year.

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport reported that it saw an 18% increase in traffic in October compared to September and an 11% increase in flights being sold out at the airport. However, the 366,000 passengers that flew through the airport is a 71% decrease in comparison to 2019.

"Next week marks the beginning of what would traditionally be a busy holiday season with a significant increase in the number of passengers traveling through RDU," Michael Landguth, president & CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority wrote in a statement. "Although we expect a modest increase, we anticipate that passenger traffic will remain well below the record-setting numbers we saw in 2019."

The latest report from RDU comes hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance recommending that Americans not travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. The health agency advised that if people do travel, they continue to wash their hands and wear masks frequently when around others.

The guidelines from the CDC also came one day after the United States reported 250,000 total COVID-19 deaths.

"It's such a frustrating thing but we really do need to be careful and we're heading into a season where it could get really ugly," said Dr. Tony Moody with the Duke University School of Medicine. "The numbers are going up, the hospitals are getting fuller and we really don't want to have a revisit to April, May when things were dark in the healthcare system."

In the meantime, RDU celebrated the return of its first non-stop international flight to Cancun, Mexico since the end of March. This weekend, JetBlue will also have non-stop flights going to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
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Raleigh-Durham International Airport celebrated the return of its first nonstop international flight to Cancun, Mexico since the end of March.

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