Airline Industry Rocked By Coronavirus Outbreak As Travel Drops By 96 Percent

A picture of an empty airport during the coronavirus.
Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

The coronavirus is grounding the airline industry, a new report says.

The worldwide restrictions that have been put in place amid the spread of the virus have brought a near-total dropoff in air travel, CNN reported. Citing a number of metrics to measure the airline industry, the report noted that the number of people traveling by plane has dropped by close to 96 percent during the pandemic.

The report noted that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened close to 95,000 travelers at airport checkpoints on Wednesday, compared to 2.3 million on the same day in 2019. The total number of people flying across the United States is just one-third of what the single-busiest airport in the country was used to seeing in a single day. As Business Insider noted last year, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport normally sees one-third of a million people every day.

“Hartsfield-Jackson earned the title of world’s busiest airport after it saw more than 107 million passengers in 2018. That’s nearly 300,000 passengers going through the airport every day,” the report noted.

“For comparison, the busiest theme park in the world, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, sees less than a fifth of that attendance every day.”

Only about 10 percent of seats on domestic flights have been occupied and roughly 25 percent of international flights, the CNN report noted. As the report added, the sharp drop in passengers has led airlines to slash their capacity by 71 percent, and there are fears for the long-term viability of the industry depending on how long restrictions remain in place.

The coronavirus relief package passed by Congress last month calls for an injection of cash from the federal government to help the foundering industry, though it has not come yet. CNN noted that passenger airlines are still waiting for the first payment from a $25 billion federal fund that will help them meet payroll.

Across the United States, governors have instituted stay-in-place orders and closed all nonessential businesses. Close to 470,000 people across the United States have been diagnosed with coronavirus through Friday morning, though some projections have shown that the peak may be coming soon. As CNN reported, via MSN, the U.S. is set to reach its highest number of daily deaths around Sunday, and the total number of predicted deaths is trending downward. Citing models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, the report noted that roughly 60,415 Americans are expected to die from coronavirus by August, down from a projection of 82,000 earlier in the week.