Nearly three-quarters (73%) of U.S. airline flights were
less than half full during the most recent week of operations, according to industry
lobbying group Airlines for America.
Only 8.5% of U.S. airline flights were more than 70% full, Airlines
for America said.
Airlines for America released these stats amid concern about
crowding on planes as passenger traffic creeps up while flight schedules remain
sharply reduced. Notably, the leading Democrat on both the House transportation
committee and the Senate commerce committee have called for seat blocking or
capacity limitations on aircraft to support social distancing.
On Tuesday, American and Southwest reported that load
factors in May are still extremely low by historical standards but have risen
significantly since April. American is reporting a 35% load factor in May following
15% in April, while Southwest expects its May load factor to be between 25% and
30% compared with 8% last month.
Airlines for America has launched a public awareness
campaign called “Fly Healthy. Fly Smart.” It’s designed to educate travelers
about steps airlines are taking to enhance health safety and to remind the
public of steps passengers can take to help prevent Covid-19 spread.