Air travel is picking up as TSA records highest passenger screenings in nearly a year


A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent wears a protective mask and stands behind a protective barrier while screening a traveler at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

TSA officers screened 1,357,111 people at airports on Friday, marking the highest number of passengers on a single day since March 15, 2020.

The milestone reflects that air travel is starting to pick up again after a challenging year for airlines caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Air travel in the United States hit a low point on April 14, 2020, with only 87,500 passengers going through TSA checkpoints. Travel for 2020 was down more than 60% from the previous year to 324 million passengers, according to the TSA. The TSA screens passengers at 440 airports in the U.S.

The reduction in travel has hit airlines hard. U.S. airlines lost more than $35 billion, combined, last year because of low passenger traffic. Airlines were forced to slash flights, block off seats, and implement safety measures in response to the pandemic.

Airlines are hoping for a travel revival in the coming months with new Covid-19 cases dropping in much of the country and more people getting vaccinated. Thirteen percent of American adults have been fully vaccinated as of Friday.

Passengers on Friday were still 20% lower than the number of passengers on the same day last year, and down nearly 38% from 2019.

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