The Christmas Eve figures do not indicate the end of the holiday rush, but rather a lull before people who left town for Friday’s holiday start coming home. TSA figures show that, in the last week, 7,189,521 people were tracked at TSA control points.
Christmas Eve follows six consecutive days of US air travel numbers close to or more than one million passengers. On Wednesday, 1,191,123 travelers broke the pandemic record. The number of people who flew on Christmas Eve is a third of the same day last year, when more than 2.5 million people flew.
The reduced number of trips forced U.S. airlines to lay off tens of thousands of employees in the fall. But business executives United (UAL) and American Airlines (AAL) on Tuesday announced plans to bring back thousands of its licensed workers in response to Congress passing its latest Covid-19 relief bill.
The new law includes an extension to the Civil Aviation Payroll Support Program, which reserves $ 15 billion in assistance to bring back more than 32,000 United and American Airlines employees who were laid off in September. The companies say the additional funds are sufficient to pay these workers by March 31.
Still, the Disease Control Center recently increased its pressure to keep passengers at home.
“Traveling may increase your chance of spreading and obtaining COVID-19,” the document said. “Postponing travel and staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
Before Wednesday, the previous pandemic record was set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
The increase in air travel is fueling new fears by health experts that there will be another increase in coronavirus infections, similar to an increase recorded after Thanksgiving.
– Chauncey Alcorn of CNN Business contributed to this report