After what the IATA described as the worst year in aviation history, U.S. passenger airlines are finally seeing a rebound in ticket demand. With the vaccine rollout progressing at breakneck speed, Americans are gradually returning to pre-pandemic life, and that includes traveling across the country and, to a lesser extent for now, abroad.
According to figures published by the Transportation Security Administration, TSA officers screened 1.58 million passengers at airport security checkpoints last Friday, marking the highest passenger throughput since March 2020, when air passenger traffic dropped by 90 percent in a matter of weeks. After averaging 2.3 million safety checks per day in 2019, the figure bottomed out at 87,534 on April 14, 2020 before starting a very slow ascent.
While Friday’s passenger record clearly coincides with Easter weekend – air traffic typically peaks around holidays – it is indicative of a broader trend that shows Americans are ready to take to the skies again. As the following chart shows, the seven-day average of passengers screened at U.S. airports has more than doubled since early February, bringing daily passenger throughput to more than 60 percent of the 2019 average by April 7.
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