TSA reveals Air travel is at the highest level in nearly a year

On Friday, the 12th of March, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened the greatest number of airplane passengers in almost a year after the suppression of air travel by the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. Although the figures recorded on Friday do not reflect a full recovery. A spokesperson for TSA revealed that the US agency had screened 1,357,111 persons at the security checkpoints on Friday. This is the highest number of passengers since the 15th of March 2020, where 1,519,192 persons were screened. 

Last week, TSA said its officers at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport have been preparing themselves for a rise in the number of travelers for spring break. This number reflects a milestone for air travel rates which had plunged since the beginning of the pandemic. In comparison to the 824 million people screened in 2019, TSA screened 324 million passengers in 2020  with its lowest volume travel day on April 14, 2020. 

During a call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings in January, Chief Commander Officer of United Airlines, Andrew Nocella said, "Demand will increase sharply at the point where vaccines have been widely distributed and border restrictions are eased and not prior. Expect that in the second half of 2021, possibly sooner if vaccine distribution improves." He predicted that while business travels will " take 18 to 24 months to recover" that "pent-up demand" for leisure travels will be on the increase following vaccine rollouts this year.

TSA has put in place safety measures during the pandemic, like the installation of 6,800 acrylic barriers through various police checkpoints in 2020. The agency has also implemented the use of technology that reduces the need for officers to handle passengers' belongings directly. The agency which oversees the security of 440 federalized airports had some 50,000 transportation security officers about a year ago and stated in the latter part of December, that it expects air travel "will remain well below pre-pandemic levels through most of 2021." 

Airlines are expecting an eventual bounce back in air travels but there are some executives across industries who are skeptical about the travel demand returning to the pre-pandemic state.

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