Airline traveler numbers rise over July 4 weekend

On July 2, the agency notched its highest count since COVID-19 restrictions began in March

The number of Americans getting on airplanes rose slightly over the Independence Day weekend.

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The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.9 million people during the past three days.

On July 2, prior to the start of the holiday weekend, the agency screened 764,761 passengers and airline crew members, which was its highest count since the end of March when the outbreak of COVID-19 brought air travel to a near-standstill.

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But despite the recent uptick in air travel, the airports throughout the nation have yet to see numbers increase to where they were a year prior, an indication that the industry is still reeling from the pandemic.

Airline passengers wearing face masks arrive and depart the D Concousre at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on June 30, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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For instance, on July 5, the TSA screened 732,123 people. This was a far cry from TSA's record of 2,795,014 passengers and airline crew members that passed through security checkpoints on the same day one year ago. To be sure, the more than 2.7 million people screened in 2019 edged past the record set just five weeks earlier, during the 2019 Memorial Day weekend.

Likewise, on July 3, the TSA screened 718,988 people, which was down 67 percent from 2.18 million in 2019. Meanwhile, on July 4, there were 466,669 people screened, which was a drop of 80 percent from 2.34 million people last year.

The TSA, which was created after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, records air traffic by posting numbers on how many people its officers screen each day through security checkpoints. The figures include ticketed travelers, some flight crew, and airport workers who are required to be screened prior to their shift.

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In March, the new coronavirus outbreak left planes nearly empty after governments around the world closed borders and issued stay-at-home orders, which forced residents to shelter in place. The move caused air travel demand to plunge and forced major U.S. air carriers to scale back flight schedules. Passenger airlines were among the hardest hit companies as the coronavirus abruptly shut down overseas markets and then pushed the United States into a pandemic-induced recession.

All of the leading U.S. airlines, which are working to regain customers, have since implemented strict safety measures, including mandating masks for crew and passengers. Many major carriers are even requiring passengers to complete a health screening checklist prior to flying.

Some carriers have limited capacity on their planes. Delta, Southwest and JetBlue temporarily left one-third or more seats empty to create more space between passengers.

However, others, such as American and United, are working to try and fill every seat on every flight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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