UPDATE 1-Number of screened U.S. airline passengers falls to lowest level since May
Adds more details, background
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.345 million airline passengers on Tuesday, the lowest daily number since May 11 at a time of spiking COVID-19 cases in the United States.
TSA said Tuesday's figure was down about 33% over the same day in 2019 when 2.04 million traveled. Southwest Airlines Co LUV and other airlines in recent weeks have warned that the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 had hit bookings and increased cancellations.
Labor Day in the United States, which is Sept. 6 this year, marks the tradition end of the busy summer travel season.
Airlines have been hammered by a lack of business travel and low demand for international trips.
The U.S. government still has COVID-19 travel restrictions that bar much of the world's population from the United States.
More major U.S. companies are pushing for return to work dates and continuing to sharply limit business travel in the face of the Delta variant.
Airlines for America, a trade group, said that through late August, U.S. domestic airline passenger traffic was 20% below pre-pandemic levels, while international air travel was down 43%.
The group added that U.S. airlines are still operating 13% fewer domestic flights than before the pandemic began 18 months ago, and 34% fewer international flights.
The airline group said average airfares in August were 29% below pre-pandemic levels "due primarily to dearth of business and long-haul international travel."
(Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Heinrich)