Amid pandemic concerns, pre-Thanksgiving passenger counts drop at Mississippi’s largest airport

Few choose to fly during pandemic

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For those who’ve been dreading long lines at the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport for Thanksgiving, dread no longer.

Social distancing proved easy Wednesday because of fewer customers.

For five hours, 3 On Your Side observed approximately 200 passengers making their way through the airport.

Travelers like G.W. Chapman, a Newton native who lives in Orange County, Calif., are flying because they don’t have a choice, having already spent time here before the holiday.

“I wouldn’t have been too comfortable. To tell you the truth, I’m not too comfortable about the whole trip,” said Chapman, who had been in Mississippi for two weeks to help take care of his father.

An industry source tells 3 On Your Side 825 passengers were slated to come through the airport Wednesday.

Compare that to what this facility sees on a typical day: 1,200 to 1,500 passengers.

One of those is Alcorn State student Chiamaka Iheme.

She said she understands warnings against travel or large groups from state health experts , but she already had the coronavirus months ago, and misses her loved ones in New York.

“The last time I had to go back to that was like two years. I haven’t been home since I got here for college,” Iheme said.

Unlike many passengers traveling for the holiday, Nick Nations will instead be leaving his family to serve his country.

“I’m actually getting shipped out to Fort Leonard Wood. I decided to serve my country and you know, protect my wife and kids from all foreign and domestic terrorism in this country. And I just want to do my part in the community,” Nations said.

Mississippian Peter Downing and his family are going to California for the holiday.

While he appreciates the safeguards the airport has put in place, he told 3 On Your Side no government official’s going to tell him he can’t travel.

“Everyone’s enforced that. Everyone’s following that. We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. So there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to fly,” Downing said.

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