March 2020 might have been the longest month in history. Every week felt like a year. I’ve been glued to news outlets, scientific projections, and other resources available as the world is pummeled by the coronavirus. Checking the GIS viewer maintained by Johns Hopkins has been a daily habit (actually, multiple times per day).
What’s also been incredible to observe is how drastically air travel has fallen off within the United States.
TSA Statistics Show Just How Much Travel Has Plummeted
As of March 30, we’re looking at a 93% drop in air travel, based on the TSA numbers for March 2019!! The number of passengers passing through checkpoints has slid from over 2 million on March 8 to just over 150,000 as of two days ago. The past two weeks have seen the greatest drop, as countries have closed their borders and people are canceling or rebooking their travel for dates far in the future.
Airlines have been both excellent and terrible through this time. They are reeling from the disruption caused by lack of air travel, parking literally hundreds of planes. I don’t envy the position this crisis has put them in. While I disagree with the need to bail out companies during this pandemic (even those as highly affected as airlines), the government doesn’t feel the same way. The airlines have gotten their share of the $2 trillion stimulus package. You couldn’t have predicted such a steep drop in travel. But that is where we are.
I wonder how much more the daily TSA numbers will slip. We’ll likely dip below six figures, given how quickly things are still slipping, but I doubt we’ll drop below five. Air travel would effectively be suspended at that point.
No, this isn’t April Fools, sadly. It’s simply a product of the entry restrictions enacted by many countries and the advisory both domestically and abroad to limit travel to only the most essential.