Although the increases are significant, the pandemic has dealt an unprecedented blow to the industry. During the busiest day in May, only 14% of travelers flew compared to the equivalent day in 2019.
More passengers also show up on each flight. Domestic flights carried an average of 47 passengers each this weekend, compared to an average of just 17 passengers in early May, according to Airlines for America.
Those loads aren’t profitable, so more passengers on flights means airlines will spend less cash with each takeoff and landing.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Friday his company is anticipating “a brutal low-fare environment as there are far more airline seats at the moment, and there will be for some time, than customers.”
Frontier Airlines is preparing for an increasing number of passengers on its flights by monitoring temperatures at the departure gate and denying boarding to anyone with a fever. Airlines for America is urging the Transportation Security Administration to manage the temperature controls.
Airlines are also adding to their schedules and flying more planes. Across the industry, about 200 fewer planes are idle than in mid-May, when airlines parked more than 3,200 planes. FlightAware tracking service says it saw an increase of nearly 7% on US flights. USA Since the beginning of May.
Southwest is optimistic enough to add nearly a dozen new routes to its schedule this winter.