SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KPIX) – Escalators run eerily empty at San Francisco International Airport. Tarmacs where planes should be loading and unloading are construction sites, and there’s only five flights on the departure board.
“Right now our passenger volumes are only about four percent of what we would normally be seeing at this time of year,” says SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel.
But for the first time since the start of the pandemic, bookings are outpacing cancellations and some airlines are beginning to move back into the international realm.
“Over a month now, we have had no flights whatsoever to Europe and beginning June 1, we’re going to have limited service to Europe. We’ve got Lufthansa that’s going to launch service to Munich and we’ve got Swiss Air that’s going to launch service to Zurich.”
Even United Airlines is about to launch service back to mainland China, with a hitch.
“They’re going to need approval from the Chinese government to be able to do that,” Yakel says.
In a world where wearing a face mask is required inside the airport and likely in flight, KPIX 5 asked when passengers would feel comfortable returning.
“I will feel comfortable when there is more structure in place. As a society, when I see there is a vaccine or antibody out there that makes us all feel safe,” said Michael Gratteri.
Gratteri’s business partner, Saurabh Bajaj plans to hold out for at least half a year.
“My family lives in India. I feel like it’s really difficult for me to travel to India right now and I think if I need to, I might get on a plane six months from now to visit my family,” said Bajaj.
Nicole Fratangelo is ready to get away right now.
“If people are keeping a safe distance, I really don’t see an issue with it,” she said.