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Coronavirus travel: San Jose airport passenger trips jump in May

Coronavirus travel: San Jose airport passenger trips jump in
May 1

SAN JOSE — Passenger trips through San Jose International Airport soared in May compared with April, and early indicators hint at further upswings in June, a sign the Silicon Valley aviation hub has begun to rebound from coronavirus-linked travel woes.

“We are seeing an uptick of travelers these past few months,” said Demetria Machado, a spokesperson for San Jose International Airport.

However, the number of travelers who transited through San Jose airport during May represents just a small fraction of the travelers in May 2019.

“We only welcomed about 6 percent of passengers this past May compared to May 2019,” Machado said.

During May, 79,600 people traveled through San Jose airport, measured by both departures and arrivals. That was up 112 percent from the 37,600 who traveled through the airport in April.

Even though trips more than doubled in May compared with April, both months are far below the same months the year before.

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The May trips were down 94 percent from the 1.36 million trips through San Jose airport in May 2019. The April trips were 97 percent below the April 2019 passenger trips, which totaled 1.3 million.

Business shutdowns ordered by state and local government agencies, as well as a collapse in interest for air travel, have unleashed a meltdown in air travel worldwide.

The slump in air travel has also bludgeoned the hospitality and leisure sectors and triggered layoffs and furloughs at hotels and resorts worldwide.

However, very recently measured outbound trips through the TSA checkpoints at San Jose airport point to a further dramatic upswing in air travel at the aviation hub.

Passages through the TSA checkpoints totaled 18,500 in April, 40,300 in May, and 88,600 in June.

TSA checkpoint exits to the gates and other secure areas at the airport represent an imperfect barometer for airport activity. They also don’t measure arrivals. However, the TSA activity can serve as an early indicator of how the official monthly report for passenger travel at the airport might look.

In this case, the TSA activity in June was more than double the transits through the checkpoints during May.

“We are ready and waiting for those who choose to travel as we have deployed many health and safety measures throughout our airport to protect our employees and passengers,” Machado said.

Airport workers and managers, as well as TSA workers, are constantly sanitizing high-contact, frequent-touch areas and modules, such as conveyor belts at the TSA checkpoints, trays for personal belongings, ticket booths, and counters.

Plus, hand sanitizers and safety warnings such as social distancing signs and reminders to wear masks are almost as ubiquitous as slot machines in a Las Vegas casino.

Airport employees are manufacturing custom-made plexiglass shields and hand sanitizer stations at the San Jose aviation hub.

An estimated 330 safety decals have been deployed through the complex, said Graham Ritz, airport operations supervisor in terminal management.

San Jose airport custodians use an electrostatic sprayer daily to clean hard-to-reach areas. Among those: spaces between seats and keyboards at ticket counters.

“When travelers are ready to travel, we are ready for them,” Machado said.

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