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RDU anticipates 64% fewer travelers this holiday season

Posted December 16, 2020 10:53 a.m. EST
Updated December 16, 2020 11:03 a.m. EST

— On Wednesday, officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport discussed their plans to keep holiday travelers safe.

President and CEO Michael Landguth said RDU is anticipating about 104,200 travelers for Christmas week, or about one-third the number who traveled through the airport last year.

The busiest travel days are projected to be the two Sundays after Christmas -- Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 -- with more than 18,400 travelers expected each day.

Landguth reminded the public that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans not to travel for the holidays but acknowledged that people will anyway. Those who do travel must follow the three Ws and allow at least two hours to get to their gate, he said.

All travelers passing through RDU are required to wear face coverings while inside the airport. They are also asked to practice good hand hygiene and maintain a safe distance from others. The airport has installed plexiglass shields, sanitizing stations and signage this year for that purpose.

Landguth referenced a Harvard study that suggests flying on an airplane, with the proper precautions in place, could be safer than shopping in a grocery store largely due to onboard ventilation systems that continuously circulate and refresh the air supply.

According to Landguth, by the end of 2020, RDU will have seen about 5 million passengers for the year. He said it may take the airport anywhere five to seven years to recover from economic losses due to COVID-19.

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