US airports prepare for the ‘summer from hell’ a record number of passengers head for the skies

US airports prepare for the ‘summer from hell’ as Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded, a record number of passengers head for the skies and TSA staff ‘move to the Mexican border’

  • 257.4 million are expected to fly on U.S. airlines between June 1 and August 31 
  • That’s up 3.4 percent from last summer’s record 248.8 million passengers
  • Comes as hundreds of security workers could be heading to the Mexican border 
  • And Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft remains grounded after two fatal crashes

US airports are preparing for a potential summer from hell as Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded, a record number of passengers head for the skies and security staff head to the Mexican border, according to officials. 

Airlines for America, the trade group representing major U.S. carriers, said it expects 257.4 million passengers to travel on U.S. airlines between June 1 and August 31, up 3.4 percent from last summer’s record 248.8 million passengers. 

That means average 2.8 million people each day will use air travel to go on trips – just as hundreds of aviation security personnel could be heading to the Mexican border. 

That combined with the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft after two fatal crashes could make it a very stressful summer for travelers, experts have warned. 

Travelers wait in line to go through a security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan National Airport on May 24, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. US airports are preparing for a potential summer from hell as Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded, a record number of passengers head for the skies and security staff head to the Mexican border, according to officials

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California in March 2019

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked on the tarmac after being grounded, at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California in March 2019 

Airlines are adding 111,000 seats daily to accommodate the extra 93,000 passengers expected per day, Airlines for America said, in what it forecast will be the 10th consecutive summer of increases in the number of U.S. airline passengers. 

Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc have already canceled flights because of the grounding of the 737 MAX into August, while United Airlines has canceled flights into early July.

Southwest has canceled 160 daily flights through August 5. It launched service to Hawaii earlier this year but has had to defer flying there from San Diego and Sacramento because of the MAX groundings.

American has canceled nearly 115 flights daily until August 19, accounting for two percent of its summer flight capacity. 

The U.S. Transportation Department said that July 2018 was the all-time busiest air travel month, with 75.8 million passengers.

It comes as The Department of Homeland Security looks to move hundreds of Transportation Security Administration workers to help at the southern border. 

It is also considering tapping more than $230 million from the TSA to fund operations on the U.S.-Mexico border if Congress fails to approve additional funding, a person briefed on the matter said.   

Earlier this month the TSA confirmed it planned to redirect staff to the U.S. southern border to assist with immigration duties and migrant flows.

A TSA spokesman said the agency was looking for volunteers to support efforts at the border with Mexico, where the government has said it is grappling with record numbers of people. 

Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc have canceled flights because of the grounding of the 737 MAX into August, while United Airlines has canceled flights into July

Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc have canceled flights because of the grounding of the 737 MAX into August, while United Airlines has canceled flights into July 

Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said: ‘As the busy summer travel begins, it couldn’t be a worse time [to] undermine important safety programs and endanger the safety, security and comfort of the traveling public.’ 

The Federal Aviation Administration met with aviation regulators from around the world in Texas to update them on the various reviews of the 737 MAX last Thursday. 

Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said: ‘The public can trust that the FAA will not let the 737 Max fly again in the U.S. until it is safe to do so.

‘I’m not going down the timetable road. The only timetable we have is the analysis that says the Max is good to fly, and safe to fly.’ 

 

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