US Air Travel Returns to Pre-COVID Levels

"United Airlines - N229UA (final Battleship Gray revenue flight)" by InSapphoWeTrust is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

For the first time since early March 2020, more than two million individuals poured through U.S. airport security checks on Friday. This marked a milestone in the aviation industry’s recovery from the pandemic.

“A Busy Airport – Las Vegas, NV” by hyku is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Friday, 2.03 million passengers were examined at airport checkpoints, according to the Transportation Security Administration. For the initial time in 15 months, the overall number of security inspections in a single day reached two million.

Since about February, bookings for air travel have been increasing; more people have already been immunized from COVID-19 and travel restrictions (such as obligatory quarantines) have begun to lift across the United States.

It’s Not Over Yet

The recovery process is not yet complete. When contrasted to the very same day in 2019, Friday’s attendance was just 74% of the previous year’s. According to the TSA, the 2.03 million figure was 1.5 million higher than the same day last year.

This two million figure signals a significant improvement for the tourism industry, which had been severely impacted by the epidemic. In April 2020, there were days when less than 100,000 people boarded flights in the United States; at the time, Boeing’s chief projected that about one big national airline would have to go insolvent.

The majority of airlines continue to lose money. Southwest made a little income in the first quarter as a result of its portion of $64 billion in federal pandemic assistance; other airlines are anticipated to come up later this year.

The Threat of Layoffs

The threat of huge layoffs is no longer a concern. United Airlines (which spent $7 billion last year and threatened to lay off 13,000 employees) assured staff during the week that their jobs would be safe, even if federal funding ran out in October.

This is because airline companies, such as United, are confident in their ability to save the lucrative summer holiday season. Foreign and corporate travel remains severely low, but local vacation traveling has returned to pre-pandemic rates.

Workers on unpaid leave are being recalled; also, airlines expect to hire a modest number of pilots and other professionals later this year.

Hoteliers report that as vaccination rates climb, their bookings have improved as well.

Will Lockdowns Ever End?

It will be a long time before the world returns to normal.

However, some states, such as Florida, have gone a long way in making sure the emergency COVID restrictions are lifted. Florida makes a strong case against the effectiveness of lockdowns in the first place. The state has been out of lockdown for over a year now; yet their infection rates are compatible with states that have a similar climate, yet strict lockdowns, like California.

Texas and other conservatives states have also followed a more measured approach to the lockdowns. This means that business has carried on as normal in these parts, offsetting some of the economic decline seen at the beginning of the lockdown.