Baton Rouge airport expects big holiday travel increase this year

The Baton Rouge Metro Airport. (Collin Ritchie)

The 2020 holiday season saw a huge drop in travel, especially at usually busy airports. But as COVID-19 numbers drop and travel picks back up, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport should edge closer to pre-pandemic travel numbers.

There will certainly be a big increase over last year, says Jim Caldwell, marketing and air service development manager at the airport. 

In September 2021, the airport drew about 90% of the number of travelers it had in September 2019, Caldwell says, an indicator of a return to normalcy. Over the holidays, he expects the airport will see about the same. 

Like most airports, BTR’s seating capacity is still slightly below what it was during the same month in 2019, Caldwell says, but he and his team are still preparing for double the number of travelers in 2020.

Leisure travel at the airport is back to 2019 numbers heading into the holiday season, if not slightly above, Caldwell says. 

Business travel is increasing, but remains below 2019 numbers, something Caldwell attributes to businesses continuing to conduct meetings and conferences via Zoom and other video chatting sites.

Going into the new year, airline schedules show BTR seating capacity 1% above that of January 2019, Caldwell says, partially due to Delta substituting two of its regular jets at the airport with larger Boeing 717s. 

“Those numbers could change,” Caldwell says, “But we’re hopeful it holds.”