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San Antonio International Airport using germ-fighting robot to combat coronavirus spread as holiday travel ramps up

Airport officials say the robot uses UV technology to zap germs including the coronavirus.

SAN ANTONIO — Airports across the country are seeing a rush of holiday travelers despite the coronavirus surge.

The TSA says more than 1 million Americans boarded flights nationwide on both Friday and Saturday, setting a record for travelers on consecutive days since the pandemic started.

At the San Antonio International Airport (SAT), a new team member is helping keep things clean for all the passengers. The SATerminator is the newest germ slaying hero at the airport. The robot is putting in work as holiday travel ramps up.

Airport officials say the robot uses UV technology to zap germs including the coronavirus.

The disinfecting machine is the airport’s latest step in preventing the spread of the virus.

SAT saw a busy weekend with military service members and families traveling for the holidays.

“We expect Wednesday the 23rd to be a busy day,” said Tom Bartlett, deputy aviation director. “Then it'll go down a little bit on the 24th and the 25th. On Saturday, we're looking at some more big spikes with travelers either returning home or leaving town.”

Staff often have the new robot complete a lot of the disinfecting overnight while passengers are not around.

“We use the SATerminator in high-transit, high-traffic areas,” said Tonya Hope, public relations manager for the San Antonio Airport System. “Those areas include the elevators, the baggage area, any place that is touchable. We use that as often as possible.”

Hope says it takes about 15 minutes for the UV rays to zap all those germs in a room or elevator.

The airport has also hired more human staff to keep things clean.

These measures are being taken along with mask requirements, spaced seating in waiting areas and hand sanitizer stations.

“Safety of the passengers and traveling public is paramount for us,” Bartlett said. “We've been doing this now, it's been about 10 months of making sure and assuring it’s safe travel for the passengers.”

Over the weekend, SAT welcomed 3,000 travelers above its daily average.