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Santa Barbara Airport taking precautions as coronavirus outbreak grows

SB Airport security
KEYT Photo
Santa Barbara Airport has been taking more steps to keep its terminal clean.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Despite the global spread of the coronavirus, Santa Barbara Airport has yet to see much turbulence.

Worldwide, travelers are canceling their flights and airlines have been dropping flights to deal with declining demand.

Santa Barbara Airport, however, has not seen any virus-related schedule changes from airlines. It is also not testing any incoming passengers for coronavirus.

The airport is putting an extra emphasis on keeping the terminal clean.

"Our janitorial staff are putting more focus on sanitation of surfaces," airport spokesperson Deanna Zachrisson said. "Sanitizing menus after every use, sanitizing tables. Increased focus on cleanliness."

The airport is relatively small and does not have international flights, so it's more unlikely that passengers are arriving from areas with widespread community spread of the virus.

And SBA's passenger numbers are only expected to grow in the month of March.

“Since March is traditionally spring break, a lot of kids are gonna be out of school,” Zachrisson said. “We’re actually going to be having an increase in capacity coming up in the next couple of weeks.”

Zachrisson says United Airlines, for example, while cutting domestic and international flights, will increase its Santa Barbara capacity from 800 passengers per day now to 930 per day by the end of the month.

Many passengers told NewsChannel 3 on Friday that they are not too worried about traveling, even as the virus spreads.

Some travelers even think now is a prime time to fly.

“If anything, maybe it’s better because there will be less people traveling,” said Amanda Miller, who is visiting the area from Tennessee. “In my mind, airplanes are always dirty, it’s always dirty when you travel. So you just have to be cautious like you normally should be.”

Others recognize the risk, but are staying optimistic.

“I flew through the SARS epidemic,” retired airline crew member Marcus Lundell said. “And everyone was as nervous about that as they are now. And everybody got through that pretty well.”

Coronavirus / Health / Santa Barbara- S County / Travel

Ryan Fish

Ryan Fish is a reporter, sports anchor and forecaster at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.