The fact that masks are no longer required to fly may boost travel in the future.

But, even before a Florida judge nixed the mask requirement for air travelers across the country, Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) saw a very healthy increase in March of 2022 when compared to March of last year.

In fact, the airport was seeing double.

Toward the end of each month, the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority meets and releases the latest stats for the airport – and at the board’s April meeting this week there was a lot to like about the new numbers.

One of the outstanding stats was this one: The number of passengers flying in and out of PTIA in March of this year was 100 percent higher than that of March 2021.

The current year-to-date number for 2022 is even better: passenger traffic is up 122 percent year to date.

Despite the good news, the number of passengers using the airport still isn’t at pre-pandemic levels. The number of passengers for March 2022  versus that same month in 2019 was down 27 percent.

Cargo has been a bright spot even during the worst of the pandemic and, in March of 2022, the amount of cargo coming in and out of PTIA was up 14 percent over March 2021 – and up 8 percent year to date.

Cargo continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels. In  March 2022 the amount of cargo coming in and out of the airport was 50 percent higher than it was in March of 2019.

Other stats are also trending in the right direction.

The total number of seats – filled or unfilled – scheduled to depart from PTIA in  May 2022 is 84,461.  That’s up 42 percent over May 2021 – but down 31 percent compared to May 2019.

Load factor, which is the average percentage of airplane seats departing from the airport that had passengers in them, was 55 percent in January of 2022. That January load factor is 6 percent higher than January of 2021.  However, it remains 13 points lower than in January 2019.