Aviation Recovery Continues As TSA Exceeds 500,000 Daily Passengers

The latest Transportation Security Administration (TSA) figures show that the worst of the storm has passed, and passenger numbers continue to climb week on week. Yesterday, over half a million passengers were clocked passing TSA checkpoints. That figure was up from just 87,534 from the worst day in April.

TSA, Passengers, Aviation Recovery
Around the world, more and more passengers are taking to the skies. Photo: Getty Images

We’re still a long way off of a full recovery of the aviation industry. Everybody is aware of the industry devastation brought on by the pandemic. The crisis has often been called worse than 9/11, the 2008 financial crash, and other events of similar magnitude combined.

Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly what’s next. However, some anticipate recovery taking as long as three or four years.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

Numbers are up

Every day at 09:00 New York time, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) releases data regarding the number of passengers handled each day. These figures vary during the week, typically peaking around the weekend. However, yesterday the figures surpassed half a million travelers for the first time since March 21st.

TSA, Passengers, Aviation Recovery
The TSA clocked over half a million passengers yesterday. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: TSA

Indeed, Thursday saw one of the sharpest increases in passengers to 502,209, from 386,969 on Wednesday. On a comparable weekday last year, the TSA handled 2,675,686, meaning that travel has almost recovered to around 20% of what it was. Of course, the remaining 80% is likely to be a long, uphill climb.

What about commercial flights?

For a more worldwide perspective of the current situation, we can also look at data from FlightRadar24.com about the number of commercial flights tracked by the platform. The number of commercial flights also operates on a weekly cycle. However, the data has been slightly different from the TSA’s.

TSA, Passengers, Aviation Recovery
The number of commercial flights operated is also on the up! Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

At the worst point of the crisis, the TSA’s data became reasonably flat. However, the weekly cycle of commercial flights never stopped. This week, FlightRadar24.com also recorded its highest number of commercial flights since March 24th. This figure now stands at 47,748 flights recorded yesterday. This is roughly half the pre-crisis figure. At its worst, this figure dropped to just 23,926 flights.

Continuing recovery?

It’s impossible to state precisely what the future recovery will look like. Perhaps a second peak will cause another dip, or maybe an eagerness to travel will see things recover faster than expected.

American Airlines is certainly seeing passenger numbers recover, however. In an 8-K notice today, the airline published its passengers per day and load factor for the last three months, including June so far. In April, the airline’s load factor sat at 15%, with 31,000 passengers per day. In May this rose to 47% and 85,000 respectively. However, it is expected to rise to 67% and 129,000 passengers in June.

American Airlines getty images
American Airlines is also seeing passenger traffic recovering. Photo: Getty Images

With many airlines across the world looking to resume services over the coming months, one would expect the numbers to continue rising. However, we will have to wait and see what happens!

When did you last fly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!