Millions of Americans, despite their recommendations, decided to use the airlines before Thanksgiving.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspected over 3 million passengers on the weekend before Thanksgiving, the busiest weekend since mid-March. Many Americans ignored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning and went to relatives for the holidays.
Last Thursday, the CDC urged Americans not to travel during Thanksgiving to reduce the spread of coronavirus as the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose sharply.
U.S. airline executives said last week that growth in ticket purchases slowed as COVID-19 cases increased, although Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said he expects November to be better booked than October and September.
Although TSA numbers have been increasing, the number of people using the airlines’ services is 60 percent less than in the same period last year.
Airlines are losing millions of dollars daily due to a sharp drop in airline ticket sales. Some carriers were hoping to increase the number of flights on Thanksgiving and winter holidays.
Amtrak Executive Director Bill Flynn told reporters that demand for railway tickets for Thanksgiving “slightly decreased over the past few days” to 20% of last year’s demand.
U.S. airlines say demand for tickets is 62 percent of last year’s demand. The demand for international flights has decreased by more than 70%. Some officials believe that the imposed restrictions prohibiting foreign tourists from visiting the U.S. may be removed in whole or in part as new methods of testing for COVID-19 appear.
The CDC said testing for the virus before and after international travel on Saturday could reduce risk and “make travel safer by reducing the spread of the virus in planes, airports and other places. Leaders of the seven largest U.S. airlines made a new call for increased financial assistance Wednesday.
American Airlines and United Airlines laid off 32,000 employees last month.