Airline shares jump after TSA screenings topped 1 million, a 7-month high

  • TSA screenings topped 1 million on Sunday for the first time since mid-March.
  • U.S. airport screenings this month are still down 65% from a year ago.
  • Airline executives expect a slow and uneven recovery from the pandemic.

Airline stocks jumped Monday after airport screenings over the weekend rose above 1 million for the first time since mid-March, a sign more travelers are getting comfortable flying again despite the pandemic.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 1.03 million people on Sunday, the most since March 16. That is still 60% lower from a year ago, when 2.6 million people passed through TSA airport checkpoints, showing airlines' pandemic-induced struggles are far from over.

But the figure still represents improvement. So far this month, daily airport screenings are down 65% compared with the first 18 days of October 2019. In April, screenings were down more than 90% from a year earlier.

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Delta and United executives last week noted encouraging booking trends but warned investors that a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels, particularly for once-lucrative business travel, is likely years away.

Both carriers posted large losses for the third-quarter. American and Southwest are scheduled to report results before the market opens on Thursday.

United shares on Monday were up 6.3% in midday trading, while Delta was 1.6% higher. American and Southwest were each up about 2%.

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