Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines — which, compared to some smaller carriers, has a greater share of the international and business travel — saw its passenger traffic decline by nearly 70%.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where Delta has its largest hub, had a more than 60% decline in passenger counts in 2020.
Traffic levels nationally remained down 60% or more into the first few weeks of this year. However, passenger counts at airport security checkpoints in the past month have climbed above the 1 million mark on some days, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.
A recovery in air traffic is “expected to accelerate heading into the summer months with greater vaccination rates and the release of pent-up travel demand,” according to a Thursday report by bond rating agency Fitch Ratings. Leisure travel will lead the recovery, particularly domestic travel, but it is expected to take years.
“We are forecasting a prolonged recovery for the air travel industry, with full recovery in the U.S. not expected until 2024 at the earliest,” the report said.