© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Leisure Travel is Picking Up at Orlando International Airport, With Numbers Expected to Reach 2019 Levels This Summer

This holiday will be the busiest so far at MCO. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons
This holiday will be the busiest so far at MCO. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Air travel at the Orlando International Airport has increased by 1,700 percent this April over last.

GOAA CEO Phil Brown says Orlando International Airport has fared better than others during the pandemic due to its emphasis on leisure travel.

Brown expects the number of passengers using MCO to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer. 

But he says it depends on whether demand stays consistent for the area’s theme parks and if international travel resumes at the airport.

"We have a large proportion of our travel that is leisure and that's been very resilient. It was proven in the recession in 2008. It's been proven again here."

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/13020_ORANGE_DANIELLE.wav"][/audio]

Brown predicts there’s a still unexplored pent-up demand for vacation travel in the Orlando market.

“And it’s a matter of being able to take advantage of that, and establish that you can fly safely on these air carriers and that both the origin and destination airports are safe to travel.”

[audio wav="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/13019_ORANGE_DANIELLE.wav"][/audio]

Brown says the airport probably won’t hit the 51 million passengers a year it last recorded in February 2020, until 2022 or 2023. 

He says concessions at the airport have a ways to go to recover from COVID-19 as many are understaffed and struggling to fill open positions. 

More than 60,000 passengers flew out of the airport each day last weekend, near record levels for a non-holiday weekend since March 2020.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.