Airports screening record number of pandemic travelers

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — As more Americans get vaccinated, air travel across the country is reportedly on the rise.

Over the weekend, more than 1.5 million passengers were checked in at U.S. airports, a level that had not been reached since mid March of last year.

The airline industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic – dropping nearly 96 percent in 2020.

But there’s good news on the horizon as air travel is picking back up.

TSA data shows on Wednesday, more than 1.1 million travelers passed through airport security across the country. A huge jump compared to the 280,000 travelers exactly a year prior.

SFO’s busiest day since the start of the pandemic was last Friday, with 21,500 passengers clearing security.

But there’s still a long way to go.

“We’re still down about 70 percent. This is normally a time of year where we should be seeing 75,000 people coming through out checkpoints. So there’s still a lot of ground to makeup.”

Most passengers flying out of SFO are leisure travelers.

Airlines are adding more leisure destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Costa Rica, but one of the biggest hot spots has been Hawaii.

“With a lot of companies continuing to tell their employees to work from home, we think that business travel recovery will be more delayed but we’re definitely seeing a recovery on the leisure side.”

And with the increase in passengers, businesses within the airport are slowly recovering as well.

“Right now about three quarters of all of our shops and restaurants are open. We continue to add more to the list of shops that are going to be open in the coming days and weeks. So that’s very encouraging, and for them it’s reaching a point where it makes financial sense to reopen. There’s enough activity to justify the investment that they need to make in order to actually run their facilities so that’s a good indicator.”

Travelers must continue to wear their masks at all times while at the airport and on the plane.

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