Millions expected to travel for Fourth of July weekend; Charleston Airport seeing significant growth

CHS CEO: ‘Air travel is back, and it’s back here in Charleston in a big way.’
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 3:14 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Millions of Americans are set to take to the skies and the roads to celebrate Independence Day this year after the COVID-19 pandemic hampered celebrations last year.

AAA predicts 47 million Americans will travel for the Fourth of July this year, the second-highest number ever and only behind 2019′s record. The group predicts more than 635,000 South Carolinians will hit the road for the long weekend.

Air travel, meanwhile, is up significantly from last year but below 2019 levels. The Transportation Security Administration screened 1,920,663 passengers Wednesday, more than three times as many as the same day in 2020 but still around half a million fewer than the year prior.

At the Charleston International Airport, officials expect 20,000 people to pass through the terminals on Thursday alone: 10,000 arrivals and 10,000 departures, respectively.

Among them was Logan Pennella, who was visiting Charleston from New York as she considers moving to the Lowcountry. While she said she was still a bit uneasy about flying, mask requirements help ease her concerns.

“It’s a little scary. It’s a better feeling being vaccinated and you know everybody has to wear a mask still so that’s more comforting than it was last year at this time obviously, but it’s exciting that things are up and running again,” she said.

In Charleston, the airport is running at about 90% of the passenger volume it saw in 2019 before the pandemic, and July is shaping up to be even better.

“July will be the biggest month in the history of our airport,” airport CEO Elliott Summey said. said. “We are running at about 118% of where we were in July of 2019. We’re about 20 points higher than the rest of the country right now.”

As the region continues to grow, so too do passenger volumes.

Summey said the airport is seeing plenty of growth, a trend he expects to continue.

“We see this sustaining for a long period of time; this isn’t a one-and-done thing. We think we’re going to be back and be back for good.”

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