New York and New Jersey took the biggest hits to airline service when the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel through U.S. skies to a near-standstill this year, according to a new analysis by Airlines for America.
New York — once the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. — experienced the biggest decrease of any state in scheduled departures from July 2019 to July 2020, the trade group for the nation’s airline industry discovered.
Overall, the Empire State experienced a 70% decline in scheduled passenger flights while New Jersey, the second-most impacted state, faced a 67% drop.
Three international airports in the two states, LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty are gateways for New York City, the largest urban area in the U.S. Together, they see more passengers in a typical year than even Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, long the country’s busiest airport.
At the other end of the spectrum, Montana was affected the least by the pandemic, seeing 25% fewer flights in July 2020 than the same time a year ago.
The organization also noted that the number of air travelers being screened by the Transportation Security Administration has plummeted nationally.
Although the TSA noted a slight increase in traffic volume over recent months, it’s still a far cry from the number of people walking through checkpoints at airports across the nation one year ago. On Aug. 14, 761,821 people were screened, compared with more than 2.6 million at the same time in 2019.
According to the organization’s recent analysis, the states with the biggest year-over-year declines in TSA checkpoint volume were New York with 86%, Hawaii (85%), Washington, D.C. (83%) and Vermont (83%).
U.S. airlines were transporting a record 2.5 million passengers and 58,000 tons of cargo each day before the pandemic told hold, spurring widespread lockdown orders and travel restrictions while pushing the economy into what’s projected to be the worst recession in the post-war era.
The trade group projects that the industry has a long road to recovery. It took three years for air travel to rebound after 9/11 and seven years following the 2008 financial crisis.