EDMONTON -- Friday is expected to be the busiest holiday travel day of the year at Edmonton International Airport but crowds will be much smaller than normal.

"It is a busier day but it's not busy compared to past years," Steve Maybee told CTV News Edmonton.

EIA is expecting around 6,000 passengers on Dec. 18, at 74 per cent decrease from its busiest day in 2019.

Although there may be fewer lineups, there are new health and safety measures to help keep passengers and staff safe.

Masks are required in the terminal and pre-boarding now includes a temperature check.

Travellers should still plan to check with their airline to confirm the details of their flights, which are subject to changes at the last minute.

There was a drastic decline in air travel in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EIA may not see traffic levels return to a pre-pandemic normal until 2024, according to a report released in July.

"We have to realize that we're in this for the long haul," Maybee said. "But the industry is very resilient and it will always rebound, and typically rebound stronger."

The province is warning against non-essential travel this holiday season.

Under Alberta's current public health orders, gatherings are restricted to the people within a household. Those who live alone are allowed to have two close contacts.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw will deliver her COVID-19 update at 4:30 p.m. Friday.