The Delta Air Lines ticket counter at the International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday.JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Atlanta airport says operations normal amid coronavirus travel turmoil

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Sunday reported normal operations as airlines and passengers navigate new travel restrictions enacted to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Elise Durham, a spokeswoman for the world’s busiest airport, said in a brief email Sunday afternoon that “all operations are running smoothly.”

Passengers entering the U.S. at Chicago’s O’Hare International and Dallas-Fort Worth International on Saturday reported hours-long lines to clear customs as the federal government enacted new restrictions on European nations. Several other airports also experienced longer than normal times to clear customs.

AJC’s complete coverage of the coronavirus

Passengers across the country shared fears of potential exposure to the virus as a result of prolonged waits in close quarters at several busy airports.

In a statement, Customs and Border Protection said it recognized the wait times Saturday “were unacceptable.”

“As we work collaboratively with federal, state, and local agencies to address the spread of COVID-19, some of the resources of our partners are stretched thin,” the agency said. “CBP continually adjusts its resources, in real time, as needed and we will continue to do so. We understand the inconvenience to travelers and be assured that our top priority is to ensure the safety, and security of the American people while bolstering our economic security with the facilitation of legitimate trade and travel.”

The statement went on to say that “with this national emergency, there will unfortunately be times of disruption and increased processing times for travelers. CBP is working around the clock to minimize these inconveniences.”

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and other major carriers have slashed international routes in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday that cancellations had stranded a number of passengers in Atlanta bound for Europe.

Security wait times for travelers departing Hartsfield-Jackson through the domestic and international terminals were less than 15 minutes, according to the airport’s website.

Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report. 

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