By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. holiday air passenger travel topped 2019 pre-COVID levels over the Memorial Day weekend, which typically marks the start of the busy U.S. summer air travel season, figures from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) showed on Tuesday.
The TSA said nearly 9.8 million passengers were screened or passed though security checks over the four-day weekend, about 300,000 more than over the same holiday period in 2019, the agency said on Tuesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airlines and flight tracking websites reported smooth travel over the Memorial Day period and significant improvements over 2022 performance.
The FAA said just 0.6% of holiday travel period flights through Monday were canceled versus 2.3% in 2022 and 1.4% in 2019.
“Low levels of delays and cancellations over the holiday weekend are evidence that sector-wide collaboration to improve airline reliability is on the right track,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Much more work to come, and we will continue our actions to ensure passengers are supported.”
TSA said it screened 2.74 million passengers on Friday alone, the highest number in a single day since November 2019. Friday’s traffic topped the recent high that had been set on Thursday and the entire weekend topped pre-COVID traffic levels.
The FAA said Thursday was the nation’s highest post-COVID daily traffic, with 54,684 flights.
American Airlines said on Sunday it canceled only 13 regional flights, or 0.2% of total scheduled departures, after four consecutive days of American not canceling any flights.
Airlines are often operating larger planes as they have trimmed flights to smooth operations, especially in congested New York airspace.
Industry group Airlines for America estimates a record 256.8 million passengers will fly in the June-August quarter, up 1% over the 254.6 million passengers in the same period in 2019.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, David Holmes and Sonali Paul)