Tampa International Airport had a busy summer.

The number of passengers are nearly at pre-pandemic levels. More than 1.7 million travelers passed through the airport in July, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority reported Thursday. While 2021 passenger traffic is down about 5.6 percent compared to 2019 so far, it’s an improvement over 2020 when uncertainty over the coronavirus brought airline traffic to historic lows.

“We navigated the worst storm this ship’s ever been in,” said Joe Lopano, CEO of the airport. “And now I’m happy to tell you we came out stronger than before the pandemic.”

Board members voted to approve the 2022 budget, which projects a total of 20.6 million passengers and a record revenue for the airport of $283.1 million.

Commissioner Stacy White was the only board member to vote against the budget, raising skepticism on the rosy outlook because of low vaccination rates in Florida and concerns about the latest delta surge.

Related: Tampa airport projects more passengers, record revenues in 2022 budget

“I’m not sure we’re out of the woods in respect to airline travel,” White said.

Vice Chairman Robert Watkins disagreed, saying he’s confident the airport’s future will be sound.

Tampa International is faring better than most other airports. Pandemic recovery of nationwide passenger activity in July was nearly 80 percent, according to Transportation Security Administration data. Tampa was nearly at 95 percent, though early numbers showed a dip in August.

The airport hosted its largest job fair to date last month with nearly 1,000 positions to fill. More than 800 people applied, airport officials reported, and over 400 job offers were made.

People sit for interviews during a job fair at Tampa International Airport, Wednesday, August 25, 2021 in Tampa.
People sit for interviews during a job fair at Tampa International Airport, Wednesday, August 25, 2021 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Airport officials anticipate travel to slow some in September, as it does every year at the end of the summer vacation season. It’s unclear how Florida’s high coronavirus caseloads may affect travel going into the fall months.

“We are seeing continued pressure from COVID,” said Christopher Minner, the airport’s executive vice president of marketing and communications.

International travel into Tampa is still low, but slowly increasing. The airport saw more than 14,000 international passengers in July, which is an 86 percent decline from July 2019. Flights to and from Canada resumed in July, and more connections are expected to resume in November.

The European Union took the U.S. off the “safe list” for nonessential travel Monday. Unvaccinated Americans could face more restrictions going forward. Connections between Tampa and Zurich, Switzerland or Frankfurt, Germany were pushed back to mid-December, Minner said.

The airport also added a new carrier, the low-cost carrier Avelo, which offers flights to New Haven, Conn.

That meat’s probably gone bad by now.

When transporting perishable items, like raw meat, the TSA recommends that it’s placed in a sealed container with ice or dry ice. The organization recently shared a video of an incident that shows why this is important.

The TSA Instagram page posted a video from Seattle, Wash., that shows a pile of raw chicken pieces riding on the luggage conveyor belt.

The TSA Instagram page posted a video from Seattle, Wash., that shows a pile of raw chicken pieces riding on the luggage conveyor belt.
(TSA)

The TSA Instagram page posted a video from Seattle, Wash., that shows a pile of raw chicken pieces riding on the luggage conveyor belt. In the video, the pile of meat appears to be mushed together into a cube shape, implying that it had been in a container at one point but fell out before making it out to the luggage carousel.

TSA DOG HANDLER RESCUES GROUNDHOG FROM WASHINGTON DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT RUNWAY

“There is a personal fowl on the carousel,” the TSA wrote. “Can chickens fly? Well… assuredly no poultry is flying like this. We hear at one time these wings and thighs were cooped up in a cooler. Somewhere between baggage and the carousel, they became free-range.”

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The post continues, “Don’t wing your travel packing. In order to keep from ruffling any feathers meat should be properly packaged. Ice or dry ice is permitted to keep the flock chilled. If you are pecking around the internet for travel tidbits, nest time reach out to our hens and roosters at #AskTSA. They’ll take your raw travel questions and cook out an egg-cellent answer.”

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In a statement obtained by Newsweek, a spokesperson for the TSA said, “Our understanding is that it fell out of a cooler behind the block of chicken (and you can see the chicken is still in cooler shape). Our guess is that the owner did not think about the lid coming open and did not tape it securely enough.”

Aviation communities have suffered the biggest job losses of nearly any sector during the pandemic, a new study shows.

Unemployment around the main airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton rose at double the rate of the rest of the UK.

While the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits nationally rose by 79 per cent between March 2020 and July 2021, the constituencies containing the UK’s top 20 airports saw unemployment rise by 105 per cent.  

The analysis was compiled by the Future of Aviation all-party parliamentary group which called for an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until March 2022 and additional financial support for the winter.

Henry Smith, the group’s chair, said: “Our overly cautious approach to reopening has put the brakes on the aviation sector’s recovery from COVID-19, with passenger numbers remaining at low levels which has left the UK lagging behind our European neighbours. 

“Our aviation, travel and tourism communities have borne the brunt of this with the increase in unemployment well above the national average.

“After a second lost summer and with over half of aviation and tourism employees relying on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, we run the very real risk that these figures will increase. 

“With their recovery continuing to be held back by an overly cautious approach and onerous and expensive testing requirements they will be the last industry to recovery from the pandemic and the consequences of failing to protect these jobs will be unthinkable. 

“We will not see a full recovery from the pandemic without an aviation and travel sector that is fighting fit.

“That is why it is essential that the Chancellor continues to provide employment support to the aviation, travel and tourism industries and we end the overly cautious approach to travel that has put the brakes on our recovery.”

The data shows rises of
157 per cent in Hayes and Harlington, the home of London Heathrow Airport
142 per cent in Crawley, the home of London Gatwick Airport
151 per cent in Saffron Walden, the home of London Stansted Airport
148 per cent in Luton South, the home of London Luton International Airport
99 per cent in Edinburgh West, the home of Edinburgh International Airport

 

The Taliban on Tuesday urged skilled Afghans not to flee the country, as the new rulers of Afghanistan warned the United States and its NATO allies they would not accept an extension to a looming evacuation deadline.

A spokesman for the group told the US to stop taking “Afghan experts” such as engineers and doctors out of the country.

About 16,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan over the past 24 hours, according to the Pentagon, as US troops lead an increasingly desperate effort to airlift thousands more before the Taliban’s “red line” for Western forces to leave the country.

US President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to extend an August 31 deadline to pull out American forces, with the United Kingdom expected to lobby for that at a virtual G7 summit on Tuesday.

Here are the latest updates:

Afghan all-girl robotics team members land in Mexico

Five members of an all-girl Afghan robotics team have arrived in Mexico, fleeing an uncertain future at home after the recent collapse of the US-backed government and takeover by the Taliban, according to Reuters news agency.

“We give you the warmest welcome to Mexico,” Martha Delgado Undersecretary for Multilateral and Human Rights at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the women as she greeted them during a news conference at Mexico City’s airport on Tuesday night.

The team, made up of girls and women as young as 14, has been heralded for winning international awards for its robots and started work in March on an open-source, low-cost ventilator as the coronavirus pandemic hit the war-torn nation.

Mexico has pledged to aid Afghan women and girls. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter on August 18 that the country had begun “processing of the first refugee applications of Afghan citizens, especially women and girls who have requested it,” with the aid of Guillermo Puente Ordorica, Ambassador of Mexico in Iran.

Other members of the robotics team landed in Qatar in recent days.

South Korea sends military planes to assist Afghan evacuees

South Korean military aircraft are carrying out operations to bring to the country Afghans who aided Seoul’s efforts to help rebuild the war-torn nation, Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday quoting the foreign ministry.

Three military planes were sent to Afghanistan and a neighbouring country to “bring to South Korea Afghan workers, who supported our government’s activities in Afghanistan, and their family members,” the ministry said.

Afghans had worked at South Korea’s embassy, hospital and job training centre for years, the ministry said without providing further details.

Japan deploys transport planes to Kabul to evacuate its citizens

Japan is deploying its aircraft to transport Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel who will evacuate Japanese expatriates, local embassy staff and others from Afghanistan, according to NHK news.

Japan’s defence ministry is making final arrangements to dispatch the Boeing 777 on Wednesday at the earliest to the Pakistani capital

Even with COVID-19′s Delta variant surging, people are still traveling to and from Florida in huge numbers. And Tampa International Airport is racing to meet demand.

That’s why the airport this week will hold its largest career fair ever, with nearly 1,000 jobs up for grabs.

The fair, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday between airsides E and F in the main terminal, will feature about 950 openings at shops, restaurants and rental car companies; as well as airport services like maintenance, baggage handling and customer service.

The fair has about twice the number of openings of two other big airport job fairs this year. Events in February and May sought to hire about 480 workers, but filled only a portion of those.

Related: Tampa airport projects more passengers, record revenues in 2022 budget

Most of the jobs are with companies other than the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. American Airlines, Budget Group and FedEx Express are hiring. So are companies that conduct work for other airlines, like Eulen America (Delta, American, Sun Country, Spirit), Global Aviation Services (Frontier, Air Canada) and UnifiService (United, Spirit, Breeze).

Some of the companies looking for workers had to lay off or furlough employees as air travel plummeted during the pandemic.

Aviation company Prospect of Tampa laid off 156 workers; they’re now hiring a number of passenger service workers. Hertz and Avis laid off a combined 277 workers; they’re now looking for rental car sales agents and workers to prepare cars for rental.

Now, though, 1.7 million passengers traveled through Tampa International Airport in July, up from 594,415 in July 2020. Already this year, two new low-cost carriers, Breeze and Avelo, have launched service from Tampa International Airport. And in their working draft budget for next year, airport officials are expecting record revenues.

Related: New low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines coming to Tampa International Airport

“We’re excited to see most of our passengers fly again, and we want to make sure we provide them with the service they deserve and have come to expect of the team at TPA,” John Tiliacos, Tampa International Airport’s executive vice president of operations and customer service, said in a statement.

Job applicants are asked to bring multiple copies of their resumes and two forms of identification. For more details, see tampaairport.com/hiringday.

Dulles International Airport Manager Mike Stewart announced this week that he will leave the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority after 14 years to become executive director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport in September. Stewart also serves as MWAA’s vice president.

As manager of Dulles International, Stewart directed the airport’s response during operational challenges, including weather impacts, the diversion of 40 international flights when snow closed New York’s JFK Airport in 2018, the public health challenges of Ebola and COVID-19, international travel restrictions, and the expansion and upgrades of airport facilities, including construction of the Metrorail Silver Line facilities on the Dulles campus.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to have worked with so many talented people at the Airports Authority and having the opportunity to work on so many different aspects of the aviation business,” Stewart stated. “I’ll miss the challenges and rewards of leading one of the busiest international airports in the world. I thank the leadership and my colleagues at the Airports Authority, and I look forward to working with a great team in Roanoke.”

Stewart, who became manager of Washington Dulles International Airport in 2017, has served in a number of executive and management positions at the Airports Authority, including vice president of Airline Business Development, recruiting new airlines and destinations to the Washington area’s airports and promoting travel and tourism in the region; manager of Airline Affairs, serving as liaison between the Airports Authority and airlines; and manager of Dulles Airport Administration, overseeing airport leases, contracts and permits for airport tenants and businesses, including ground transportation and parking.

Stewart’s previous experience in the airport and aviation industry includes general manager of the Dulles Jet Center, director of corporate real estate and airport affairs for Independence Air and management positions with US Airways and Piedmont Airlines.

Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter thanked Stewart for his years of service and his contributions to the Airports Authority, its business partners and its customers.

“Throughout his career, Mike has proven his ability to build and lead high-performing teams, foster strong partnerships with internal and external stakeholders and launch new and expanded lines of business,” Potter said. “We are fortunate to have benefited from his experience, skills and leadership, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavor.”

Navy Cove oyster farm in Fort Morgan is one of the pioneers of aquaculture along the Gulf of Mexico. Chuck Wilson founded the farm in 2011, when the idea of growing single oysters in off-bottom cages or baskets was still a new concept in the area. As mouths around the South – and the country – started tipping up half-shells of Alabama-farmed oysters and slurping them down, the product’s popularity increased, and the number of devoted fans grew alongside the state’s oyster-farming industry.

In March 2020, Navy Cove was getting ready to harvest a bumper crop of bivalves and deliver them to restaurants that would serve them to hungry beach crowds, and they expected to do the same all summer long. The pandemic put the brakes on it all.

“We had a lot of oysters on the farm that were about to be market size in March and early April, right when things started shutting down,” Wilson said. Business dropped precipitously and quickly. “We expected to sell 15,000 to 20,000 oysters per week from spring through August. We sold a third of that.”


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Long lines at the Kahului Airport are causing some frustration for travelers.

“We stood in line for an hour and 20 minutes, barely making it to our flight before taking off,” said Jannelle Fukuoka, a Maui resident recently traveling from Kahului Airport. “Luckily they held the gates open at Hawaiian Air because I think many other passengers were stuck in the TSA line.”

Nearly 8,500 visitors touched down at the Kahului Airport on Monday. With travel restrictions loosening on Thursday, some are expecting the long waits to get even worse.

“It was a pretty gnarly experience to say the least, because I’ve never seen airport that packed before,” said Trisha Gives, an Oahu resident who recently traveled from Kahului Airport.

Mayor Michael Victorino is aware of the capacity concerns at the airport. He also says there are talks of Kahului Airport expanding.

“So there are more changes coming,” said Michael Victorino, mayor of Maui County. “I will be meeting with them very soon to see what they’re discussing and what kinds of plans they have.”

Hawaiian Airlines says it is also aware of constraints at Kahului Airport and regularly discusses with the state and TSA on solutions to improve passenger flow.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Department of Transportation says flights schedules and gate assignments have been made through July, and Kahului Airport has the capacity to handle the schedule traffic.

Travelers want change as tourism picks up again.

“There’s just so much travelers coming in at one time of the day,” said Fukuoka “I think it’s because all the mainland flights going in and mixed in with interisland at the Kahului Airport, which I feel like we should have it separated.”

Mayor Victorino previously proposed limiting flights to Kahului Airport, but Gov. Ige says it’s illegal to limit interstate travel.

The HDOT will continue to work with Maui County to manage gate and other operations.

Travel out of Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport is way up from last year, but still below pre-pandemic numbers.

Part of the reason it hasn’t fully bounced back is that not all the flights have returned, including Lubbock’s direct service to Austin.

In April of 2020, the first full month of COVID-19 in Lubbock County, saw the fewest passengers out of the Lubbock airport. Just 2,345 passengers, fewer than 100 per day, flew that month. It was close to a 95% decrease from the 42,964 passengers that flew out of the airport in April 2019.

This past April, 31,951 passengers flew out of the airport. Travel out of the airport was 13 times the volume in April 2021 compared to the previous year, but still lower than April pre-pandemic.

April was the extreme, but airport director Kelly Campbell says this is pretty much still the picture: significantly more people are traveling out of the airport this year, but still below pre-pandemic numbers.

May of this year, for example, saw a 345% increase in passengers from May 2020, but it was still 22% lower than May 2019.

The biggest month-to-month jump in passengers occurred from February to March of this year, when about 13,500 more passengers flew out of the airport.

Campbell says the airport is beginning to feel like an airport again.

“It’s a drastic turnaround,” Campbell said. “In April of 2020, it was hard to come to work. It was depressing. We had days when our last flight went out at 10:30 in the morning. We’ve slowly gotten better, it’s been a slow progression. We still continue to see it get a little bit better.”

According to the Associated Press, the July 4th weekend was expected to be the busiest travel weekend since the pandemic, as more people across the country are vaccinated. An estimated 3.5 million travelers were expected to pass through U.S. airports.

A spokesperson for AAA told CBS News that many more Americans, an estimated 43 million, were expected to travel by car during the July 4th weekend.

Airlines say that domestic leisure travel is back to 2019 levels, although the lack of business travelers means that overall, the number of passengers over the past week is still down slightly compared with the same days in 2019, according to the AP.

Campbell also says that in Lubbock, it seems to be that leisure travel is picking up, while business travel remains down. Campbell says it’s impossible to know when, if ever, business travel climbs back now that virtual meetings have become so ordinary.

The number of flights out of the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport is still down from where it was pre-pandemic. 

American, United and Southwest Airlines have flights out of Lubbock. Campbell says American has pretty much returned to its eight flights a day out of Lubbock, United has returned to its five flights a day, but Southwest Airlines is currently running on average about four flights a day out of Lubbock, when pre-pandemic

The European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate was designed to save the continent’s travel industry, but trade groups warn that a “patchwork” rollout across member countries could damage the industry’s recovery efforts. 

A joint letter from trade groups Airlines for Europe, Airports Council International, European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Transport Association Monday warned that the different approaches member countries are taking to implement the certificate, also referred to as the DCC, could lead to long passenger queues and wait times.

The letter was sent three days ahead of the July 1 deadline for EU member countries to recognize the vaccine certificate system. 

Have COVID vaccine, will travel:These are the countries open to fully vaccinated Americans

International travel:European Union to recommend lifting travel restrictions on American tourists

“As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real,” the letter reads. “It compromises the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine (the) restoration of free movement across the EU.”

The free virus pass comes in both paper and digital forms and allows travelers to move freely between European countries without needing to quarantine or undergo additional COVID testing. The passes show a person’s vaccination status and whether they have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus. 

Passes are issued by individual nations. Twenty EU countries and three non-EU member countries are “effectively connected” and verifying at least one of the three certificate qualifications.

The countries include: 

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Liechtenstein
  • Iceland
  • Norway

Travel pass:New EU travel certificate will help vaccinated tourists hop across Europe starting in July

Eight countries (Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland) have not connected but are considered “technically ready” to connect, according to the European Union’s website. 

Pass ‘threatens the success’ of Europe’s summer travel season?

A Tuesday statement from the International Air Transport Association said there are at least 10 different national approaches to the certificates that are under review across the EU, and warned that the implementation plan as it stands “threatens the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine free movement of citizens across the EU.”

IATA and the other trade associations have asked the EU to standardize the verification protocols across member countries and verify travelers’ certificates before they arrive at airports “to limit operational disruptions.” 

“The smooth implementation of the DCC and the restoration of freedom of movement are crucially important for restoring passenger confidence and to help our sector’s recovery,” the letter reads.