Bern’s new EWN airport expects busy holiday trips, even as omicron spreads
New Bern airport officials predict that holiday travel rates will match pre-pandemic figures, despite the nationwide increase in cases of omicron variants.
“I just heard there was an oversold flight,” said Andrew Shorter, director of the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. “There is more energy for people who want to travel and they are taking advantage of it.”
The omicron variant is likely to spread more easily than the original virus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC expects that anyone with a confirmed omicron infection can spread the virus even if they are vaccinated or asymptomatic.
Data predicts that omicron will become the nationally dominant variant by Christmas Day, with some regions exceeding rates earlier, according to the CDC. Holiday gatherings could accelerate these trends.
The airline isn’t quite back to full capacity, but this holiday season remains busier than last year, even with a risk of infection.
Shorter said if more seats were available, the airport would be busier than in 2019, just before the start of the pandemic.
Thursday is expected to be the busiest airport travel day as the Christmas holidays approach, so Shorter suggests travelers “pack your patience.”
“Because of course at this time of year we start to have weather type events,” he said. “And that still affects theft because it’s always safety first.”
Shorter said the airport was not implementing any new preparations other than what it had already done since the first variant of COVID-19.
“We just make sure everything is ready to go,” he said.
The federal mask mandate, social distancing and clean-up protocols have remained constant at the local airport since the peak of the pandemic.
“We only have Americans now and not Deltas, so overall we have fewer passengers than in the past,” said Shorter.
Due to the loss of an airline, parking is not a problem. Shorter, EWN is one of the cheapest airports for parking, which is convenient for travelers.
Shorter said it is important for travelers to register with the airline they fly with and download the available apps. Each airline’s requirements are different and push notification of any change to the flight route can be beneficial.
“If people feel comfortable traveling, the industry is there to serve them and EWN is their local airport,” he said. “We hope everyone will take advantage of their local airport to catch a flight and see friends, family and loved ones this holiday season.”
This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Loads Vacation Despite Omicron