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Times Union: Albany airport hits post-pandemic passenger record

(June 28, 2022) - If there’s any doubt that travel has recovered from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, take a look at the Albany International Airport, where 5,241 passengers were expected to board an aircraft on Monday, according to federal statistics.

That’s the highest number since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

"The summer travel season officially kicked off today and our travelers are back," Airport CEO Philip Calderone said of the numbers.

At the height of the pandemic, as few as 100 people were enplaning, or boarding planes, each day.

Luckily, those using the Albany airport have avoided some of the travel snags, delays and other headaches that are afflicting other larger metropolitan airports, which like the airlines, continue to be dogged by personnel shortages stemming from the pandemic.
Over the June 18-19 weekend, for example, there were more than 10,000 cancellations nationwide, according to USA Today.

And Reuters news service on Monday afternoon reported that there were already more than 700 cancellations nationwide, including those with Delta and United airlines.

But as a smaller airport that frequently feeds major hubs like Newark or Chicago, Albany has less traffic and has relatively few backups.

As of Monday afternoon, the Albany International Airport website listed 34 on-time arrivals, two delays and two cancellations. For departures, 15 were on time, with two cancellations.

Rather than crew or other problems, delays at Albany often are the result of bad weather in major hub airports, which causes a domino effect, explained airport spokesman Doug Myers.

“Ours are normally due to weather delays,’’ in places like Chicago and Washington, D.C., he explained.

The best way to avoid that, said Myers, is to catch an early morning flight if you have connecting flights. That way, you have a better chance of avoiding late-day thunderstorm delays at your connections.

The 5,241 enplanements scheduled for Monday compares to 3,737 in 2021 and 1,461 in 2020. Although this is the week before the July 4 weekend, so air travel is expected to be heavy all week.

Highway travel is also expected to be high for the upcoming holiday.

AAA predicts that 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend starting on Thursday - and that's despite gas prices topping $5-per-gallon in some locations.