The national agency screened 128,875 passengers on Sunday

By Eric Todisco
April 28, 2020 12:56 PM
Credit: Scott Olson/Getty

The air travel industry is showing a tiny sign of life  after seeing a record-low number of travelers in the past month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has reached nearly 1 million, many states, including Georgia and California, have begun lifting restrictions, leading residents to venture out and begin traveling again, even by air.

The TSA reported in its public logs an uptick in passengers in the last several days, with Sunday seeing the highest numbers of airport screenings since April 3.

On Thursday, there were 111,627 travelers screened, increasing on Friday to 123,464 travelers. By Sunday, the number reached 128,875 passengers.

That number is still a tiny fraction of a typical pre-pandemic day for the agency.

Typically, the TSA may scan over 2 million travelers per day. Back on March 1, prior to the U.S. beginning shelter-in-place orders, they reported nearly 2.3 million passengers flying that day.

By April 3, there were 129,763 reported travelers. The numbers began to decline over the next several weeks due to the coronavirus continuing to spread at mass numbers across the country.

Passengers go through TSA screening at a nearly-deserted O'Hare International Airport on April 2, 2020 in Chicago.
| Credit: Scott Olson/Getty

All three of the major U.S. airlines — Delta, United and American —have taken massive financial hits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a joint letter issued to United Airlines employees April 15, CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby said the company saw a 97 percent drop in demand during the first two weeks of April compared to the same time frame in 2019.

The pair said that they “expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019.” They also warned their employees that pay cuts will likely happen in the coming months.

Munoz, who has been United’s CEO since 2015, opted to forfeit his salary until June 30. Delta CEO Ed Bastian made a similar announcement in a release from the company last month, while Southwest CEO Gary Kelly will incur a 10 percent pay cut.

United Airlines
Credit: DANIEL SLIM/Getty Images

Sydney-based CAPA Centre for Aviation predicted last month that many airlines will have a hard time bouncing back financially as they dip into their financial reserves amid the global outbreak.

“Emerging from the crisis will be like entering a brutal battlefield, littered with casualties,” CAPA said, warning that, “coordinated government and industry action is needed — now — if catastrophe is to be avoided.”

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