Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 21, 2022 – The Gerald R. Ford International Airport released its guest numbers for 2021, showing a near return to pre-pandemic travel levels.
From January 2021 through December 2021, more than 2.9 million passengers flew through Michigan’s second largest airport. After a severe downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers show a positive sign of return to air travel. In 2019, a record year for Ford International Airport, more than 3.5 million passengers flew through the Airport.
This past year was the third highest year for passenger traffic in Airport history and neared 82% of pre-pandemic numbers. The Airport exceeded its previously forecasted passenger numbers for 2021 by 600,000 passengers.
“After the challenges of the pandemic, it is gratifying to see we are back to nearly pre-pandemic travel levels,” said Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority CEO Tory Richardson. “We are so pleased to see guests return and have the confidence in us to get them safely where they’re going. Our guests are the pulse of the Airport, so seeing the concourses lively again has been a breath of fresh air.
“We anticipate continued growth in the coming year and will be ready so our guests can reunite with loved ones, reconnect with business colleagues and explore new destinations.”
After a modest start to 2021, Airport traffic saw a spike during spring break travel, with more than 228,000 West Michiganders seeking out warmer climates. As access to the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine, which was first delivered from the Ford International Airport in December 2020, traffic continued to increase, peaking in July of 2021 at more than 313,000 passengers. Similarly, a spike in travel occurred during the year-end holiday season with nearly 553,000 guests traveling through the Airport.
2021 Numbers by the Month
- January: 133,606
- February: 160,949
- March: 226,831
- April: 228,044
- May: 236,047
- June: 264,764
- July: 313,814
- August: 288,473
- September: 256,496
- October: 266,102
- November: 266,740
- December: 286,096
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Ford International Airport launched “Fly Safe. Fly Ford.,” a campaign designed to showcase the efforts the Airport was taking to ensure guest safety. While traffic rebounded, the Airport continued to move forward with capital projects to improve the passenger experience, including completing the second phase of the Gateway Transformation, constructing the first phase of the Federal Inspection Station and breaking ground on a new operations center.
“Our goal is to create a best-in-class airport that connects West Michigan to the world,” Richardson said. “We are continuing to invest in the infrastructure needed to ensure we can serve passenger needs for decades to come. We are honored our community continues to rely on us and look forward to showcasing continued improvement efforts in the years to come.”
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