PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — As COVID-19 numbers go down in the U.S., the Pensacola International Airport is seeing even more travelers come to use its airport.
Airport officials say the Pensacola International Airport (PNS) is breaking records for air travel set before the pandemic began.
“Just last week we had one day with over 5,000 enplanements,” said Matt Coughlin, director at the airport. “If you even look back to 2019, we didn’t see that number until later in the summer and we’re seeing it in May.”
Coughlin attributes the success of the airport to Pensacola and the Florida Panhandle being desirable places for travelers to spend time.
For that reason and more, PNS has done better than average in terms of air traffic during the pandemic. The airport is currently seeing 10% more weekly passengers compared to the same week in 2019 — its best and record year for air travel.
That year, more than 2.2 million passengers went through the airport — up from about 1.9 million in 2018. PNS saw a 16% growth in 2018, increasing traffic from about 1.7 million passengers in 2017.
The increase in passengers lately led Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson to discuss an airport expansion at his weekly press conference Monday.
“Once we get to June, we’re going to be going to 30 cities,” Robinson said. “The most destinations we’ve ever gone to in Pensacola. I think we’re going to need a second terminal.”
Coughlin said a new terminal is years away but is part of the airport’s master plan.
“It is very early,” he said. “But, I’d say within five years, you’d see some substantial growth here.”
Spirit Airlines is expected to start service at the airport on June 10. United Airlines will add flights to Milwaukee, Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Cleveland starting next week.