Travelers wait in line at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at Orlando International Airport in May 2021.
Paul Hennessy | SOPA pictures | LightRakete | Getty Images
The Transportation Security Administration said Friday that airport controls rose above 2019 levels for the first time in the pandemic, suggesting strong travel demand over the weekend of July 4th.
The TSA screened nearly 2.15 million people on Thursday, nearly 3% more than the 2.01 million people who went through security checkpoints at U.S. airports on July 1, 2019. The trend is unlikely to continue. July 1, 2019 was a Monday and a low point for the week as the July 5th screenings shot up more than 706,000 people.
Still, the milestone shows the surge in air travel demand since a widespread introduction of vaccines in the US this spring and easing of pandemic-related closures or restrictions. The increase is mainly due to domestic vacation travel in the United States, with most long-haul business and international travel still on hold.
Southwest has canceled 194 flights, or 5% of its flight schedule, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. More than 800 flights – or 23% of the daily schedule – were delayed, the website said. About 130 American flights – or 4% of the schedule – were canceled and nearly 700 were delayed, FlightAware data showed.
Airlines and airports also try to have enough staff for the high summer season.
Transportation companies were not allowed to take involuntary leave of absence for workers in exchange for $ 54 billion in federal payroll. However, the airlines turned to voluntary action, urging employees to buy-out, take early retirement or take temporary leave during the pandemic. Some are trying to hire or recall them, as well as hire temporary or new full-time workers to meet increasing demand.
Earlier this week, CNBC reported that Southwest offers double payment to flight attendants as well as agents of the ground and cargo operations to work shifts in the first week of July to avoid flight disruptions. American announced last month that it had cut its schedule for the first half of July by about 1%, in part due to the surge in demand and staff shortages.
JetBlue Airways said flight attendants who fail to call between July 1 and September 6 will receive $ 800 or four confirmed one-way passes on future flights.
“This summer isn’t going to be easy financially or operationally, and operations are making this time even more difficult,” said Ed Baklor, JetBlue’s vice president of in-flight experience, in a memo verified by CNBC.
Delta Airlines is in the process of hiring 1,300 reservation agents by autumn after customers have been exposed to hours of waiting. The airline is also planning to hire pilots, flight attendants and mechanics.
United Airlines – which, like Delta, was more conservative in starting flights this summer compared to American and Southwest – wrote to federal aid and a deal with their pilots union that kept many Airmen informed and available to address some of their competitors’ operational challenges avoid.
Also airports are with a variety of personnel challenges, with some concessionaires offering $ 1,000 signing bonuses to fill open positions for cashiers, chefs, and other jobs.