By Brooke Shafer

MIAMI(CBSMiami) – Wednesday marked one of the busiest days at Miami International Airport since the start of the pandemic with more than 80,000 passengers traveling.

An airport spokesperson told CBS 4 that Sunday also marked one of busiest days since March with more than 81,000 passengers in a single day.

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Christmas Eve is usually the slowest air travel day of the holiday season, according to airport officials.

The number of passengers traveling through MIA is down about 50 percent from this time last year. Airport officials are projecting about 54,000 passengers this Christmas Eve compared to last year’s 126,000.

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“It’s about what I expected,” said Ethan Bauer who was headed home to Boston from Miami early Thursday. “The holidays are a busy time to travel and there’s always a lot of people. So I think regardless if it’s COVID or not, there’s going to be a lot of people out.”

On Thursday, there were stacks of luggage outside MIA’s Terminal D as people headed out for those last minute-holiday flights. But even as tens of thousands of passengers go through the airport, AAA expects 34 million fewer travelers compared to this time last year. Still, it expects between December 23 and January 3 more than 84 million people will hit the road or the skies.

This, as doctors offer a stern warning with a message that the pandemic is not over.

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“My advice is not to travel,” said Rachel Guran, an epidemiologist with Memorial Health Care system. “Stay home with your immediate household family.”