Air travel surged to its highest level in nearly one year. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the number of travelers screened on Friday reached its highest level since March 15. Data suggests the impact of Covid-19 on the air travel industry might be coming to an end.
A spokesperson for the US agency reported the Transportation Security Administration screened 1,357,111 people at airport security checkpoints on Friday. The figure is the highest since March 15, 2020, when it reached 1,519,192 people.
“If you choose to fly, wear that mask!” Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for the agency, said on Twitter.
Air travel rates heavily decreased since last year due to covid-19 travel restrictions. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the air travel industry losses had hit $374 billion since last year, and the seating capacity fell by 50%.
“With airports and air navigation services providers losing a further 115 billion and 13 billion, respectively”, said ICAO in a press statement.
Additionally, TSA screened 324 million travelers in 2020 compared to 824 million passengers from 2019. The lowest-level hit on April 14, 2020, with about 87,500 passengers screened in the U.S. However, the last figure from TSA marked a new milestone in air travel rates.
TSA is responsible for security for more than 440 federalized airports and had about 50,000 transportation security officers. Nevertheless, the agency said a full recovery in the air travel industry might not be possible this year. In a statement in December, TSA said: “will remain well below pre-pandemic levels through most of 2021.”
TSA expects a surge in Spring break
Furthermore, TSA installed about 6,800 acrylic barriers on security checkpoints at several airports last year; over its role in implementing covid-19 related safety protocols. Last week, the agency added some of its officers at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport are expecting an increase in travelers for spring break.
Airline companies also said they’re expecting more demand in the air travel industry with fast Covid vaccines roll-out.
“Demand will increase sharply at the point when vaccines are widely distributed and border restrictions are eased, and not prior. Expect that in the second half of 2021, possibly sooner if vaccine distribution improves.” Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer of United Airlines, said during a call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings in January.
“Pent-up demand” for leisure-related travel will rise following vaccine roll-outs this year, Nocella forecasted, while business travel will “take 18 to 24 months to recover.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Kao, CEO of TravelMole launched VirtuallyYoursTravelShow (VYTS) – a company which aims to help travel industry businesses and travelers alike to overcome the covid-19 pandemic damage. The company allocated $1 million in marketing support to the industry.
Kao said he expects a surge in numbers of travelers in time for Spring break.
“I imagine a lot of this surge in numbers are the youth on Spring break. It would also include already vaccinated individuals, visiting family and friends, along the lines of the new CDC guidelines. And, include those who think Covid has, for the most part, been controlled, based on the highly publicized declining Covid figures and States who have dropped mask requirements and opened public venues. CDC’s messaging of a Covid resurgence still lurks and people should void air travel have fallen on many deaf ears. ” Kao said.