Rochester airport sees rise in winter travel numbers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. With kids out of school for February break, it’s the perfect time for families to take a vacation.

It’s also a good time for airport officials who are seeing a rise in travel numbers post-Covid. News10NBC went to the airport in Rochester to see where people are headed and just how much of an increase we’re seeing in travel.

There’s no doubt many families are excited to get away for a week and enjoy a nice vacation, and assistant airport director Steve Barz says this is the most travel they’ve seen since Covid. When you walk into the airport, you can almost feel the difference with more people in and out.

“We’re heading to Charleston today just to get some warm weather and enjoy some history in our country and get south,” Shayne Watterson said.

Barz says that in January they saw a 43 percent increase in travel, making it their best January in five years, and he says things are only getting better.

“Right now we’re up about 10 percent over last year,” Barz said. “The last four days going back to last Thursday we’re averaging 4,800 departing passengers a day. This weekend we had 5,000 passengers departing in one day, which is phenomenal for us.”

He says they’ve even had to make adjustments because of the increase.

“It’s nice to see people coming back,” Barz said. “All of our surface slots here at the airport campus are full, so we actually had to use our red overflow lot, which is across the street on Brooks Avenue, so we’re seeing the traffic coming back and it’s great.”

And for those traveling this week for February break, many are excited to get away. Others say they’re most excited about the sweet perks their destination has to offer.

“We’re going to this awesome hotel that serves milk and cookies before bed every night so I’m really excited about that,” said Anna Watterson, who is traveling to Charleston.

And some are hoping to bring some warmer weather back to Rochester and maybe a few friends.

“We are going to visit family and see the ocean and maybe see some manatees and do some sightseeing,” said Sarah Donovan, who is traveling to Florida. “And alligators! Maybe I’ll smuggle a baby alligator home.”

And Barz says they anticipate these travel numbers to remain consistent even after this week.