FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s considered the unofficial start to summer and it’s arriving this weekend.
Memorial Day is almost here and with it plenty of families either hitting the road or looking to the sky. This time last year, Covid-19 was sweeping across the country preventing many from traveling. Now, those at RSW are ready to see a surge in passengers ahead of the holiday weekend.
“On average, we have five to seven wheelchair passengers per flight; before weekends like this it’s double that amount so we always make sure we double staff and have everything ready. We’re looking forward to it,” says Xavier Barrett, Station Manager at RSW Airport for Eulen America.
It’s a sight that is pleasing airport staff. Passengers filling ticket counters, and planes taking to the skies once again. According to AAA, more than 37 million Americans are expected to travel for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
“It usually starts around Thursday, those are our busy days so when we see an increase around Thursday then we know the weekend is going to be kind of crazy," said Barrett. "We just make sure we’re double staffed, we have everybody ready and make sure we’re where we need to be.”
Passenger foot traffic isn’t the only thing to see an increase at RSW, either. Employment at the airport has risen within the span of a month. In April, Eulen America had between 8 and 12 employees. Now, they have more than 25 in their ranks and they’re still bringing in fresh faces.
“It definitely says the economy is recovering and people are getting more comfortable with being out in the public," says Barrett. "This time last year was a ghost town, nobody wanted to travel especially in an airport. It’s an international airport and so many people here, nobody wanted to be here last year. But now, everybody’s coming in and walking around, they’re smiling, they’re eating, the restaurants are opening back up. It lets us know we’re going back in the right direction. It’s been really good, we enjoy it.”
As airport staff buckle down, passengers should keep in mind the added time it may take for them to reach their destination.
“A lot of times there might be a weather delay or a mechanical issue with the aircraft that could delay your time of arriving at your destination," Barrett said. "I would just prepare and have a back up plan in place and just be ready for anything.”
As the staff here double down ahead of the weekend, they are still hiring. You can find more information about those opportunities on Eulen America's website.