McALLEN — After seeing a 55% drop in passenger traffic in 2020, the McAllen International Airport is already bouncing back this year, reporting a 43% increase as of May compared to the same time last year.

Passenger traffic for April and May has outperformed not only 2020 numbers but already surpassed their 2019 numbers.

“2019 was a record-setting year so that says a lot about where we are today,” Elizabeth Suarez, the director of aviation for the city, said during a news conference held July 16 at the airport.

In 2019, there were 432,178 passenger boardings which represented a 20% increase from 2018.

“We just got June’s traffic count yesterday and we continue to see phenomenal growth in the airport passenger traffic reported,” Suarez added. “We see that we’re up 70% from this time last year.”

March 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Texas, was the first month that year that the number of enplanements were less than the enplanements reported during the same month in 2019, according to the airport’s 2020 activity report.

The next month, April 2020, enplanements dropped drastically to 2,729, a 91% drop compared to April 2019. The cumulative year-to-date change from 2019 was a 55% drop.

The numbers were beginning to recover going into 2021 and in April, with a total of 32,265 enplanements, the airport reported a 1,082% increase compared to the April 2020.

In May, enplanements jumped to 39,058 which is a 509% increase from May 2020.

Altogether, from January to May 2021, there was 43% increase this year than the same time period last year.

Suarez said one of the reasons the airport was able to stay in operation despite the significant loss of passenger traffic in 2020 was because of COVID-19 relief funds they had received from the federal government.

During the July 16 news conference, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, was on hand alongside city officials to celebrate the $5,420,590 awarded to the McAllen airport through the American Rescue Plan.

“The past year, we did our part and stayed home and helped stop the spread of COVID-19. We’ve done a good job here in our district, we went through a really tough time, as I said, last year,” Gonzalez said. “This massive injection of capitol into our region really has impacted, not only the city of McAllen, but every city and every county in our district.

The airport previously received $4 million through the CARES Act and $3.2 million from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“2020 marked a difficult year in which our country and our community faced many obstacles, this certainly was the case for McAllen International Airport,” Suarez said. “The swift relief actions taken by you and your D.C. colleagues have played a key role in ensuring that our city is able to do all that it can to ensure a healthy economic recovery. Today we are happy to share that we are doing just that.”

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