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Airline travel has decreased by 96% due to COVID-19

Eliminating unnecessary — and sometimes even necessary — travel to stop the spread of the virus has drastically changed the flight industry

Masked travelers stand in line with luggage before getting to the ticket counter at the Salt Lake City International Airport Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Masked travelers stand in line with luggage before getting to the ticket counter at the Salt Lake City International Airport Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Recent reports from individual airlines and the TSA indicate that the coronavirus has had a massive impact on the travel industry, decreasing airplane travel by 96%, the Hill reports.

The number of people traveling is at a 10-year low, with only one of every 10 seats on planes that do end up flying occupied, CNN reports.

Airlines of America previously told CNN that airlines have responded to the drop in travel by only operating at 20% of their domestic capacity and 10-20% of their international capacity. But with travelers flying at only 4% of usual volume, the airlines’ cuts leave them with more than enough capacity to meet the current demand.

On April 8, 2019, TSA officers screened 2.3 million travelers in the United States. On the same day this year, TSA officers screened less than 100,000 travelers in total, the Hill reports.

Many airlines are planning additional capacity cuts this summer, up to 90%, as Bloomberg reports the Transportation Department has issued rules to minimize domestic flying levels through the end of September.

Many flight attendants that are still flying are fearful, with one veteran flight attendant telling telling the Washington Post that they haven’t been this scared to fly since Sept. 11, 2001.

Forbes reports that at least 150 flight attendants from American Airlines and JetBlue have tested positive for COVID-19, two have died and 1,000 are quarantined.