Airline Travel Doubles During May

As more and more states begin to open up and drop lockdown restrictions, air travel is starting to see an incremental growth in passengers.

Devastated by the coronavirus pandemic – which at one point in April saw a 94 percent drop in travelers compared to last year – the airline industry got a bounce-back in May.

The Transportation Security Administration says it screened nearly 949,000 passengers over the final weekend of May, according to CNN. That’s almost double the amount of travelers who passed through U.S. airports during the first weekend of the month, when 476,000 passengers went through security.

The enthusiasm over the clear growth is tempered, however, by the stark reality of the effects of the virus. Those 949,000 passengers were counted over three days. The TSA has routinely processed between 2 million and 2.6 million air travelers – per day – during this time of the year. In fact, during the busiest day in May, only 14 percent of travelers flew compared to the equivalent day in 2019.

But, CNN reported that airlines are also adding to their schedules and flying more planes. Industry-wide, about 200 fewer aircraft are sitting idle than in mid-May, when the airlines parked more than 3,200 planes. The tracking service FlightAware says it saw a nearly 7seven percent increase in US flights since early May.

Southwest Airlines, for example, cut some 100 routes from its winter schedule but said it only did so because its slate was already nearly full.

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