Travel rebound: 2 million people go through US airports

DALLAS — The airline industry’s recovery from the pandemic passed a milestone as more than 2 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday for the first time since early March 2020.

The Transportation Security Administration announced Saturday that 2.03 million travelers were screened at airport checkpoints on Friday. It was the first time in 15 months that the number of security screenings has surpassed 2 million in a single day.

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Airline bookings have been picking up since around February.

The recovery is not complete. Friday’s crowds were only 74% of the volume compared to the same day in 2019. However, the 2.03 million figure was 1.5 million more travelers than the same day last year, according to the TSA.

The 2-million mark represents quite a turnaround for the travel industry, which was hammered by the pandemic. There were days in April 2020 when fewer than 100,000 people boarded planes in the U.S., and the CEO of Boeing predicted that at least one major U.S. airline would go bankrupt.

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Most of the airlines are still losing money. Southwest eked out a narrow first-quarter profit thanks to its share of $64 billion in federal pandemic relief to the industry, and others are expected to follow suit later this year.

The fear of large-scale furloughs has lifted. United Airlines, which lost $7 billion and threatened to furlough 13,000 workers last fall, told employees this week that their jobs are secure even when the federal money runs out in October.

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