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Tampa International Airport reports record-breaking passenger numbers amid new COVID-19 surge

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 18:19:57-05

TAMPA, Fla. — AAA estimates airlines are seeing a 184 % increase from last year. Tampa International Airport reports it's on par to break 2019 passenger records. This year, between 65,000 and 75,000 passengers are expected to move through the airport this holiday season.

"Coming back down to Florida where there's warmth, it's way better," Josue Rosario said.

On Wednesday, Rosario came back home to Tampa from Minneapolis. Even news of the omicron variant wasn't going to keep him from friends and family. He just made sure to practice CDC protocol.

"Washed my hands everywhere I went and kept my distance from people," he said.

ABC Action News asked airport spokesperson Emily Nipps about how this new surge is affecting operations.

"We have not seen any major issues from the omicron variant, yet," Nipps said. "We're hoping that we can get through the Christmas season without any issues."

Jayme Santana told ABC Action News so far, so good.

"It was smooth sailing," Santana said.

This is her family's first time traveling by plane since the pandemic began.

"Well, our family is all finally vaccinated, which is great. So that made us feel a little bit more comfortable with traveling," Santana said.

With another Christmas amid the pandemic almost in the books, Rosario says this is a year of thankfulness.

"It's Christmas time. It's time for family to be together. This pandemic has kept us apart for far too long," he said.