Passenger counts at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport continue to claw their way back, but still have plenty of ground to make up before returning to pre-pandemic levels.
For February, passengers traveling through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at the airport represented a dropoff of 27.8 percent from the passenger total in February 2019, according to figures reported March 24 by the Airlines for America trade group.
That’s a decided improvement from earlier stages of the pandemic, where Reagan National saw declines of 50 to more than 80 percent compared to pre-COVID days. But it remains among the largest deficits to be made up across the county.
(Airlines for America reports TSA-screening data on a state-by-state basis; as it considers Reagan National as part of the District of Columbia, it is reported as its own separate listing.)
For February, the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota saw higher TSA passenger counts than two years before. Among the largest states in the nation, California passenger counts were down 29.5 percent, New York’s off 25.9 percent, those in Texas down 12 percent and Florida’s count was down 4.9 percent.
Locally, passenger counts were down 13.2 percent in Virginia (excluding Reagan National) and 21.6 percent in Maryland.
For the second quarter of 2022, scheduled flights into Reagan National are actually slated to be up 2 percent, second only to Idaho (up 7%) in growth.
But that number is misleading; Reagan National is largely slot-controlled, and airlines are required to use their takeoff and landing slots or risk using them. That rule, loosened at the start of the pandemic, was reinstated last fall.
South Carolina and Florida also are seeing slight increases in planned passenger flights for the second quarter, according to the March 24 data, while all other states are seeing declines as airlines attempt to match supply with demand while keeping ticket prices high enough to cover the spike in oil prices.