ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The holiday travel season this year is expected to rival the busiest seasons before the pandemic at Florida’s two most bustling airports, which will see millions of travelers passing through them, officials said.
Orlando International Airport, the state’s busiest airport and the seventh busiest airport in the U.S. last year, is expected to host 2.9 million passengers during a period that started in mid-December and extends through the first few days of the new year. That would mark a 17% increase over the same period last year when 2.5 million travelers passed through the airport.
Miami International Airport is expected to host 2.5 million passengers for a holiday travel period that lasts from Dec. 21 through Jan. 6, which is Three Kings’ Day, the final Christmas celebration observed by many Christians in Latin America and Spain. That would mark a 1.5% increase over the record-breaking holiday travel season last year.
The busiest travel day at the Orlando airport is expected to be the day after New Year’s Day, with an estimated 162,000 travelers arriving at and departing the airport.
At the Miami airport, the busiest travel days are expected to be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, the Friday before New Year’s Day and the Thursday and Friday after New Year’s Day. On those days, an estimated 157,000 travelers are expected to pass through the airport each day, airport officials said.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was expecting almost 1.6 million passengers over two weeks starting Wednesday. If that estimate holds, it will be 13% busier than last year’s travel volume but short of the pre-pandemic 1.8 million passengers who traveled during the same period in 2019.
During the holiday season, AAA expected 6.3 million Floridians to travel 50 miles or more from home, with the bulk of travelers getting around by car. About 5.8 million Floridians were planning to hit the road by car, a 3% increase over last year, according to AAA.
Florida’s ports also were expected to be packed with travelers from holiday cruises.
Port Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast is expected to break one-day cruise records on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve this year. Around 52,000 passengers are expected to get on or off five cruise ships on Christmas Eve, and 57,000 passengers are expected from six cruise ships on New Year’s Eve.