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Labor Day Brings More Flyers, but Nowhere Near Previous Numbers

Labor Day Brings More Flyers, but Nowhere Near Previous Numbers
Joe Cortez

The Labor Day weekend saw more flyers board aircraft and travel in the United States, but airlines still have a long way to go before they will get on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the holiday, the TSA screened over three million passengers, which was up from Independence Day 2020 – but a far cry from the over six million travelers last year.

There was good news and bad news to come for the airlines during the Labor Day 2020 weekend, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While overall flyer numbers were up, the numbers are nowhere close to how many flyers took to the skies the same time in 2019. The data comes from the latest Transportation Safety Administration checkpoint travel numbers comparison.

Over 3 Million Flyers Screened Over Four-Day Period

According to the TSA, 3.26 million passengers went through their screening points at airports across the United States between Thursday, Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. Compared to the Independence Day 2020 weekend, Labor Day provided an increase of flyers by 21 percent.

However, it’s still dismally low compared to the same time in 2019. On the same weekdays in 2019, over 8.6 million passengers were screened over last year’s Labor Day Holiday. This year’s passenger traffic represented only one-third of flyers passing through TSA checkpoints, in comparison to last year.

Moreover, the summer travel months – which traditionally represent the airline’s busiest seasons – were incredibly depressed compared to 2019. An analysis by CNBC shows only 65 million flyers traveled between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2020, which was a 76 percent decrease from the same time period in 2019.

Hope Pinned on Leisure Travel, While Business Travel Continues to Lag

With business travelers continuing to work from home and using technology to replace face-to-face meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines are bracing for another drop in their steadiest source of income: business travel. The Baltimore Business Journal reports corporate bookings are still down over 80 percent from 2019 numbers, with analysts at Bank of America not expecting this area of business to recover.

To drive in business, airlines have focused more on leisure travelers, who are using this period of flexible working opportunities to visit friends and family across the United States. United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have all reduced change fees in some form to encourage more bookings, while JetBlue announced several expansions focusing on connecting flyers with loved ones throughout the pandemic.

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