Air Travel – A Great Gauge of US Recovery

There’s a simple, easy way to figure out to what degree America is returning to normal after the COVID lockdowns are lifted.

In March of this year, the TSA began publishing a list of passenger traffic at airports, with the corresponding day in 2019, one year before.

This includes everyone in the US who gets on a plane for any reason; to visit family in the US, to go on vacation overseas, to fly for business domestically or internationally, etc.

As you can see from the table below,

Date Total Travel Throughput Total Travel Throughput (1 Year Ago – Same Weekday)
March 1, 2020 2,280,522 2,301,439
March 9, 2020 1,909,363 2,378,673
March 18, 2020 779,631 2,320,885
April 14, 2020 87,534 2,208,688
June 11, 2020 502,209 2,675,686

On March 1, at the beginning of the virus scare, traffic from year to year was about the same, down less than 1%.

Traffic began a rapid decline and by March 9 was down about 20%.

By March 18 the rout was on, with traffic year over year down by 75%.

The low point of traffic was on April 14, with about 87000 people traveling, down a mind-boggling 96%. At this point, US air traffic had pretty much ground to a halt.

Then it started a very gradual rise: on June 11 a milestone was reached, with over 500,000 travelers. But still down more than 80% from last year.

We’ve got a long way to go folks for a full recovery.