The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) needs to hire at least 6,000 new airport screening officer jobs in anticipation of a rush of travellers as COVID-19 restrictions and stay at home messaging is rolled back throughout the summer. Domestic travel demand is expected to recover within months while international demand could remain subdued for several years.
Last October, the number of passengers screened by the TSA at airports across the United States tipped over 1 million for the first time since the pandemic decimated travel demand. Passenger numbers quickly dipped again but have surged at traditionally busy periods including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Daily screening numbers are seen as one of the most accurate methods to assess passenger demand recovery. In recent days, passenger numbers have dropped below 40 per cent of the same numbers screened on the same day in 2020 as the Biden administration continues to urge Americans to avoid all non-essential travel.
That messaging, however, is expected to be dropped as Coronavirus case numbers drop and the number of vaccinations increases. According to Our World in Data, the United States has now administered over 17 doses of vaccine per 100 people. Both the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines currently approved by the FDA require two doses.
“Based on anticipated seasonal travel trends in the months ahead and the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations for the general public, TSA has launched national efforts to recruit new employees in support of screening operations at approximately 430 airports nationwide,” explained the TSA’s Executive Assistant Administrator, Melanie Harvey.
“We expect to screen a higher number of travelers regularly by the summer months and will need additional officers to support our critical mission,” she continued.
The agency did not say, however, what its current staffing levels are and whether it intends to hire more agents than it employed before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines have been forced to scale back restart plans as governments around the world respond to the emergence of new virus variants that could prove resistant to existing vaccines. Pre-departure testing and quarantine rules could hammer travel demand throughout 2021, although the White House has rejected plans to require pre-departure testing for domestic flights.
The aviation industry had reacted angrily to the proposals that were being actively considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.