USA: Air travelers exceed pre-pandemic figures

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The Independence Day holiday in the United States is off to a good start, with airport congestion far exceeding numbers seen in 2019 before the pandemic.

Passengers faced fewer delays and cancellations on Friday morning compared to earlier in the week.

The Transportation Security Administration recorded more than 2.4 million passengers at airports on Thursday, a 17% increase compared to the Friday before July 4, 2019.

“We expect Friday to be definitely busy, and Sunday to be extremely busy,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Motorist assistance association AAA estimates that about 48 million people will travel at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home this weekend, slightly less than in 2019. AAA says there will be record car trips, despite that the average price for gasoline is around $5. Dollar.

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Leisure travel has picked up this year, offset by weakness in business travel and international flights. Still, the total number of people flying has not reached pre-pandemic levels. TSA registered 11% fewer passengers in June compared to the same month in 2019.

Thursday was the 11th time since the start of the pandemic that the TSA checked in more passengers than on the same day in 2019 and only the second time since February.

Airlines can almost certainly carry more passengers if they have enough staff. Bad weather, air traffic problems and staff shortages have caused many US airlines to cut their summer schedules, leading to many cancellations over the Memorial Day holiday.

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Airline officials blame the Federal Aviation Administration, which operates the national air traffic control system, but has been claimed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

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