More air passengers flew on Sunday than on the equivalent day in 2019 day before the pandemic according to figures just released by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). It is the first time that U.S. air passenger numbers have surpassed pre-pandemic levels since July 2 and comes despite a slowdown in travel demand prompted by the delta variant.
The TSA screened 1,900,658 passengers at airports across the United States on Sunday, 29 August compared to just 1,887,845 passengers on the same day in 2019.
Over the last few weeks, passengers levels have sat at around 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and have been gently falling as the delta variants prompt more Americans to cancel or delay travel plans.
There are a number of reasons why passenger numbers could have spiked on Sunday compared to 2019, including the timing of the Labor Day holiday.
Airlines don’t expect passenger numbers to continue beating pre-pandemic levels as bookings taper off into the winter season and travelers reconsider travel plans as COVID-19 infections spike.
Several carriers, including Southwest, Frontier and American Airlines have all rung the alarm over falling consumer confidence owing to the delta variant which has seen bookings fall below previous forecasts.
A recent survey by Longwoods International revealed that over a third of Americans were now considering putting off travel plans specifically due to the rise of the delta variant.
“News of rising numbers infection, hospitalizations and deaths clearly is changing the perception of trip safety for some travelers,” commented Amir Eylon, President and chief executive of Longwoods International.
“And reports of so-called “breakthrough infections” among the vaccinated and increasing coronavirus cases among children may also be weighing on travel and travel planning.”
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.