Make that two bullish milestones for the travel industry.
Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) last week released its sales data for September and said that, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, travel agencies sold more than $1 billion in airline tickets. That number, which totaled $1.2 billion for September, is up from $751 in August (a 56% increase), though it is still down 85% from the $7.8 billion agencies sold in September 2019.
The number shows a slow and steady rise from the April low where agencies, including OTAs, reported a net sales number of -$427 million as consumers sought refunds as COVID-19 tightened its grip on the industry. That April number was followed by -$33 million in May, $508 million in June, $428 million in July, and $673 million in August.
According to ARC, the September increase are showing up in both domestic and international trips as U.S. domestic trips increased 24% for September when compared to August and international trips increased 29%.
The ARC data came just before the TSA recently announced that, on Sunday, it screened 1,031,505 people at airport security checkpoints nationwide, the first day that the TSA passenger volume eclipsed the 1 million mark since the COVID-19 brought air travel to an effective halt in March.
The number is still 60% lower than what the TSA screened the same day in 2019—last year, during the same weekday, the TSA saw 2.6 million people go through checkpoints—but represents a stark increase off of the 87,534 low from April 14 and even a slight increase from last week’s 968,545 number.
The week’s total also gave some reason for optimism—Oct 12 through Oct. 18 saw 6.1 million passengers total, which is also the largest weekly volume since March.
Both ARC and TSA report increases as international borders still remain closed and some U.S. states continue to enforce a quarantine, including New York, which has a 14-day quarantine in place for a number international and domestic destinations, something that ASTA recently called to be lifted.