COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Officials at the Colorado Springs Airport said Wednesday that although the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased passenger traffic by 50% in November, the numbers for Thanksgiving week have risen slightly.
"But in general, the increase is not as significant as we thought it would be," said Aidan Ryan, the airport's marketing and communications manager. "With the (pandemic) restrictions, people are changing their plans."
Ryan said that while exact numbers won't be known until next month, it appears certain that many people are heeding the advice from local, state and national leaders to limit or avoid travel during the holiday period Wednesday through Sunday.
"The airlines have pushed a 15% increase in seating capacity for the peak travel days of the holiday," she said. "Bookings are between 70% and 85%. The airlines are still limiting their capacity because of the pandemic and that accounts for some of the lower numbers."
Late Thursday afternoon, airport traffic was light and there was no congestion in the terminal.
Several passengers flying out of town for the holiday said they never considered canceling their trips despite the concern about adding to spikes in virus cases across Colorado and the U.S.
But one family, flying to California, made a late decision to travel.
"We actually hadn't planned on doing anything for Thanksgiving," said Sean Kelly, standing with his wife and three kids. "But we were having a little cabin fever and decided it was time to get out. We bought the tickets two nights ago and actually got a better deal than if we'd bought them sooner."
Another passenger said he was traveling to California and Mexico, and that his 90-year-old grandfather recently died from COVID.
"I feel like I can still travel and do everything I'm supposed to do to stay safe," he said. "The airlines have been doing a good job of keeping planes clean, and enforcing mask wearing and social distancing."
Several passengers said that once they reach their destinations, they will have smaller celebrations as recommended by officials.
However, Jesse Menendez, who arrived in Colorado Springs from Florida with his family, plans to continue a traditional large holiday gathering.
"It'll be 15 to 16 people but we're renting an Airbnb so that everyone can spread out," he said.
The airport promoting itself as being small may prove to be a benefit for many people who are undecided about traveling.
"We have 1,300 passengers a day compared to 50,000 a day at Denver International Airport," Ryan said.
Parking discounts are another advantage for passengers. The airport has lowered the cost of daily long-term parking from $7 to $3.50, effective through Nov. 30. The same discount returns Dec. 19-Jan. 3.
To obtain a coupon for the parking discount, and for other airport information, visit: http://flycos.com.