Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the US commercial aviation market saw a 37% rebound in the number of passengers flying. Not surprisingly, however, the distribution of that growth was anything but consistent across the country.
In general, larger airports showed a stronger recovery pace than not. And they dragged the overall average up with them. The top 20 airports in the country represented approximately 50% of the total passenger screenings at the end of the summer, up from 45% at the beginning.
Many mid-size and smaller airports showed growth as well, though the numbers are broadly mixed by geography and other factors. Sun belt destinations in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California generally grew more slowly that other airports around the country, though in some cases (e.g. FLL, MCO, DAL, HOU, PHX) this can be attributed to a stronger Memorial Day performance than overall weakness.
Hawaii saw outright drops in traffic, in line with expectations tied to the state’s strict quarantine rules for mainland arrivals.
Somewhat more surprising is the dramatic decrease in passengers at Allegiant‘s hub airports. The carrier had a HUGE Memorial Day Weekend and Fourth of July holiday. But Labor Day was down significantly at its main destination airports across the South. This is not like the larger airports nearby growing more slowly as described above; these are outright reductions in the number of passengers using its terminals.
Where does the traffic go from here?
The US hit a high-water mark for screening over the weekend and the 7-day moving average also finally crossed the 800k threshold, albeit far more slowly than the prior 100k milestones were reached. Traffic continues to recover but it remains a long, slow slog. And until the public health issues are addressed expect that pace to remain.
Note: All traffic reports based on TSA data from the Thursday prior to the holiday through the following Wednesday. The red line in the graphs is the national average of ~37% growth between the two periods.
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