MSP Airport preparing for influx of travelers this summer

Airlines are re-starting routes at MSP this summer as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is starting to get busy again.

In the lead up to Memorial Day weekend (the traditional start to the summer travel season), airlines are operating 176 routes from MSP Airport, which is a high for the COVID-19 pandemic, a news release from the Metropolitan Airports Commission says. 

“We are seeing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic begin to unwind with increased vaccination rates, fewer domestic travel restrictions, and growing confidence in the safety of air travel,” said Brian Ryks, CEO of the MAC, which operates MSP.

"In response to pent-up demand, airlines are significantly expanding service domestically this summer, with a particular focus on vacation destinations.”

MAC says airlines will operate 185 routes at MSP by late June, while only 40 MSP routes remain suspended. Airport officials expect more routes to start up again as the pandemic outlook continues to improve and travel restrictions are lifted.

The average number of departures at MSP Airport this month is 346, up from 139 a year ago when the travel industry was experiencing the worst shutdown period of the pandemic. 

And the average number of departures at MSP is going up. By June it'll be at 404 and will go up to 431 in July. 

“This summer our terminals will be far busier than we’ve seen since the pandemic began,” Ryks said. “Even though many people have been vaccinated at this point, we are continuing the robust cleaning and sanitization program adopted in response to the pandemic, and federal regulations still require that masks be worn at airports and on aircraft.”

MSP will still require face coverings as part of its COVID-19 safety protocols (TSA is requiring facemasks on airplanes still too). Other COVID precautions at the airport include: "vigorous" cleaning, social distancing reminders, hand sanitizing stations, protective barriers between travelers and staff, and contactless options, from prepaid parking to touchless food pick-up and delivery options in Terminal 1. 

A look at flights that are resuming

The MAC cites Sun Country Airlines' five new domestic routes (Orange County, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Cincinnati and Hartford) launched earlier in May, as well as Delta Air Lines two new routes being launched this summer (Providence, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine), as well as the airline restarting 10 other domestic routes in June that have been suspended since last year. 

Alaska Airlines is also starting new seasonal service to Anchorage June 5 and Southwest Airlines will begin its year-round service to Austin the next day. 

Meanwhile, international routes, which have been slower to rebound due to travel-related restrictions, are showing a positive trend for coming back online. 

Delta took "another step" to restart its international routes from MSP by resuming its Amsterdam service in February and Mexico City on May 5. It'll restart its flights to Iceland on May 27, and will resume its Paris and London flights "later this summer," MAC said.

MAC adds other airlines are resuming international service, like Air France, which will restart its MSP to Paris flight on June 9. Icelandair will restart its Iceland service on June 20. And Condor's Frankfurt service is tentatively scheduled to start again in July. 

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