Travelers disembark at US airports for the 4th of July holiday

The 4th of July weekend got off to a explosive start with airport crowds crushing the numbers seen in the US in 2019, before the pandemic.

Travelers appear to have fewer delays and cancellations on Friday than they did earlier this week.

The US Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.4 million travelers at airport checkpoints on Thursday, 17% more than on the same Friday before July 4, 2019.

“We anticipate that (Friday) will be busy, of course, and then Sunday will be very busy,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said on NBC’s “Today” show.

AAA predicts that nearly 48 million people will travel at least 50 miles (80 km) or more from home over the weekend, slightly less than in 2019. AAA says car travel will set a record even as the national average price of gasoline fluctuates near the US. $5.

Leisure travel has rebounded this year, offsetting the weakness of business travel and international flights. However, the total number of people traveling by plane has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. The TSA screened 11% fewer people in June than in the same month of 2019.

Thursday marked the 11th time since the pandemic began that the TSA tested more people than on the same day in 2019, and only the second since February.

Airlines can almost certainly carry more passengers if they have enough staff. Many U.S. airlines have slashed their summer schedules after bad weather, stalled air traffic and enough staffing caused widespread cancellations over Memorial Day weekend.

Airline executives blamed their flight problems on the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that runs the nation’s air traffic control system, but Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg objected. that statement.

By late Friday morning on the East Coast, airlines had canceled about 200 US flights and another 1,400 were delayed. From June 22 to Wednesday, at least 600 flights were canceled and between 4,000 and 7,000 flights delayed each day, according to tracking service FlightAware.

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