Birmingham travel industry booming one year after pandemic began

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With a significant dip in COVID-19 cases and vaccines continuing to roll out, summer travel is expected to pick back up this year.

In an effort to help keep up with the demand, airports and airlines are looking to hire some extra help. The pandemic caused a drop in foot traffic, which led businesses throughout Birmingham to cut back on their staffing.

“It’s been really hard to get a job especially with covid I’ve just been at home taking care of my baby and just being a mom,” said Amber Horton.

But the job market is turning around for people like Horton as COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen and more people get vaccinated businesses are looking to hire some extra help.

“Customer service, the front line is hiring which is good. That would be good for me especially with my customer service experience that would be good. There’s just a lot going on here that I think I can benefit from you know,” said Horton.

“There are over 60 positions available collectively between some of our airlines, with TSA, Hutson Group, HSM Host, the Birmingham Airport Authority, our rental care partners,” said Candace O’Neil, with Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

O’Neil said travel is picking back up again after a dramatic drop. Back in April of 2020, the airport only had 12,000 travelers. But just last month the airport had over 150,000 travelers.

“So, we just want to make sure we’re ready on all fronts. That was fully staffed so that way we can offer that great quality customer service that our customers come to expect and enjoy when they fly with Birmingham,” said O’Neil.

As we head into summer the US Travel Association said 72% of Americans will make at least one trip and Horton says it’s her family’s to-do list.

“I’m really looking forward to taking her to a beach because she would be like two and then just run all over the beach so I’m looking forward to that,” said Horton.

Heading into a holiday weekend, AAA predicts more than 37 million Americans will travel for memorial day weekend, a 60% increase from the record low in 2020.

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