Airline Travel About Half Its Former Self

On Tuesday TSA stations at airports across the country checked in about half the number of people they did two years prior, before there was a novel coronavirus. Airline traffic is struggling to catch up to where it was.

There is reason for optimism. ”On the 4th of May 1.13 million Americans passed through TSA security.That’s a far cry from the 130,000 that we saw in 2020 but it’s still about 50% below what we saw in 2019,” says Daniel McCarthy, editor of Travel Market Advisors. So the numbers are heading in the right direction as TSA extends the mask mandate through mid-September and airlines open up social distancing requirements in seat assignments.

And the summer vacation season, always a heavy travel time for families, is about to kick off in earnest with Memorial Day at the end of the month. “Summer looks strong within the United States,” McCarthy adds, noting ongoing limitations for international travel. “They are waiting on the cruise lines to start getting going, which they will in the next few weeks. Places that typically bring tourists in from driving states are thinking very positively about this summer.”

Still lagging is business travel, which accounts for a sizable percentage of airline profits, and may never return in the numbers they had given the virtual meetings developed in Covid.

photo: Getty Images

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