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US Sets Another Pandemic High For Air Travel At 1.64 Million

An airplane sits at a gate at LaGuardia Airport on April 26, 2021 in New York City. As the number of the people vaccinated against COVID-19 increases throughout the nation, people are beginning to travel by air again. Nearly 1.6 million Americans flew on April 18, 2021 while just over 105,000 Americans flew on the same day in 2020. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(AP) – About 1.64 million people were screened at U.S. airports Thursday, the busiest day for air travel since March 2020, the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous pandemic high for air travel was reached just four days earlier and with the Mother’s Day weekend on the way, this record is likely to be surpassed quickly as well.

Air travel has yet to return to anywhere near the typical levels seen before COVID-19 brought flights almost to a standstill. In April and May, airport crowds were down about 40% compared with the same period in 2019, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration.

Airlines began to register a pronounced uptick in bookings around mid-February, which they attribute partly to the nation’s massive vaccine rollout. Leisure destinations such as beach towns and mountain regions have been the most popular, while cities favored by business travelers have lagged behind.

Airline stocks rose Friday, with American, Delta, United and Southwest all gaining between 2% and 3% in afternoon trading.

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