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St. Pete-Clearwater airport records busiest December, amid year of recovery

Despite several record-breaking months, total passengers in 2021 falls short of pre-pandemic times.
Travelers arrive at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Thursday, March 11, 2021 in Clearwater.
Travelers arrive at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, Thursday, March 11, 2021 in Clearwater. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jan. 11

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport had a historic holiday season.

More than 200,000 passengers traveled through the airport last month, making it the airport’s busiest December on record, St. Pete-Clearwater International announced. Traffic was up 67 percent compared to 2020, when the pandemic set the airport back, and up 2 percent from 2019.

While the airport recorded a few record-breaking months in 2021 — including a July that was the busiest month in St. Pete-Clearwater International’s history — overall traffic last year was down from pre-pandemic levels.

About 2 million total passengers went through the airport last year, up 46 percent from 2020. Before COVID-19, the airport had nearly 2.28 million passengers in a year.

Even though airports are recovering from pandemic lows, the coronavirus continues to impact travel. Nationwide, winter weather and airline staff shortages from outbreaks fueled flight delays and cancellations in late December and early January. It affected flights from both Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater.

In 2021, St. Pete-Clearwater International expanded connections to 11 new cities.

The airport now offers 65 destinations, the most the airport ever had, according to a statement. Two new airlines were also added last year: low-cost carrier Swoop began service in November to Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, and Sun Country Airlines began service to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Allegiant added nine routes to the airport last year, the most of any airlines. St. Pete-Clearwater International is one of the airline’s most popular destinations, said Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue and network planning, in October when announcing a new route to Akron, Ohio.

Allegiant also added flights to Bentonville and Little Rock, Ark.; Fargo, N.D.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Provo, Utah; Key West and Wichita, Kan. Flights to West Virginia are set to begin this year.


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