Passengers at Miami International Airport
Leslie Josephs | CNBC
US trips hit a new pandemic high and rose despite new Covid-19 infection records due to vacation demand.
More than 1.3 million people passed the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at US airports on Sunday. However, 55% of the 2.4 million people TSA screened a year earlier was still its highest volume since March 15.
Air travel increased over the Christmas and New Year holidays despite warnings from health officials to avoid travel to curb the spread of Covid-19. December was the deadliest month in the US for the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House advisor and one of the foremost infectious disease specialists in the country, has warned of a further surge in infections after the holidays.
Air traffic is still around half last year’s levels, and airline executives have warned they expect demand to decline outside of the main holiday season. TSA announced on Monday that 324 million passengers were screened in 2020, 500 million fewer than in 2019.
Vaccines have sparked optimism about a recovery, but the timing of when travelers will return en masse is unclear.
“As difficult as 2020 was, I expect the next 12 months will be more challenging in many ways,” said Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines CEO, to employees on New Years Day. “Just as we have never had a global pandemic in our history, we never had to create and execute a plan to recover from one. We will build a new delta that will focus on medical and economic recovery that isn’t gives.” still taking shape. “
Airline stocks started the year significantly lower. Alaska and Spirit each fell more than 5% on Monday, while Delta, Southwest and United stocks ended the day more than 3% apiece. American Airlines lost more than 4%. The S&P 500 lost 1.5%.