Some 2,028,961 travelers moved through U.S. airport security lines Friday, according to the federal Transportation Security Administration. The figure represents the first time the number of daily air travelers has surpassed 2 million since COVID-19 struck the country.
The figure for the comparable day in 2020 was 519,304 — one quarter this year’s number. Saturday’s TSA throughput number was 1,812,797, more than four times the 437,119 air travelers counted on the comparable say in 2020.
In contrast, the TSA counted more than 2 million travelers on every day except one in April, May and June 2019.
A traditional signpost for summer travel, Memorial Day weekend, produced data showing Americans itching to be on the move.
AAA Senior Vice President of Travel Paula Twidale said in a prepared statement issued at the time: “As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence grows, Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day. This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer, though we must all remember to continue taking important safety precautions.”
Another federal government measure of air travel — airlines’ consumption of fuel — provides a separate measure of the sector’s recovery.
Total global flight data for major U.S. airlines has 1.12 billion gallons of aviation fuel consumed in April 2021, compared with 515.3 million gallons in April 2020 and and 1.53 billion gallons consumed in April 2019.
Domestic flight data for major U.S. carriers has April 2021 fuel consumption at 759.5 million gallons — nearly twice the 335.7 million gallons the same airlines consumed in April 2020 but far less than the 1 billion gallons consumed in April 2019.