Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) will be the sight of a major economic development announcement on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

However, there was no public mention of that event at a Tuesday, Jan. 25 short meeting of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority – the seven-member board that oversees the operations of PTIA.

One item that was a topic of discussion at the meeting is the state of passenger traffic at the airport that, like other airports around the world, has been hurt tremendously by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the meeting, which was held via Zoom, PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker had some relatively gloomy numbers to report to the board.

“Passengers in December were down 25 percent of 2019,” he said.

Airport officials often look at new stats in relation to 2019 since that was the last “normal” year.

“That was kind of a slip back,” Baker said of the December numbers, “but that was because of this new spike in COVID picking up.”

The Omicron variation of COVID-19 has been spreading quickly across the US, but Baker said at the meeting that he hopes the current predictions by medical professionals are true – that the new variation will burn out fast and case numbers will come down quickly.

Baker added, “I think it’s going to be interesting in 2022 to watch not only 2022 over [20]19 – which was the last normal year – but also over 2021, to see how we’re getting out of this morass that we’ve been in.”

On a more positive note, the amount of cargo coming in and out of PTIA continues to grow.

“Cargo was up 59 percent in December over 2019 and, year-to-date, up over 34 percent compared with 2019 – so cargo continues to be a bright spot for us,”  Baker said.

He added that, according to other forward-looking data, the passenger outlook for PTIA was positive.