Airline shares surge as TSA numbers hit pandemic high, support for second bailout builds


A sign reminding passengers to stay 6 feet apart is seen at a screening checkpoint at Orlando International Airport.

Paul Hennessy | LightRocket | Getty Images

Airline shares Monday headed for their biggest one-day percentage gains in nearly a month after federal data showed air travel at the highest volume in nearly five months and as political support grew for more federal aid for the struggling sector.

The number of people passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at U.S. airports rose for a second consecutive week with 831,789 people on Sunday alone, its highest level since March 17.

Despite the uptick, TSA traffic is still down by about 70% from the same time a year ago, meaning airlines have far to go before recovering to normal levels, particularly in the crucial peak summer season.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines shares were each more than 7% higher in early afternoon trading, while United Airlines was up more than 8%, and Southwest Airlines was up more than 4%. The S&P 500 was trading 0.2% higher.

Some analysts are concerned about what happens to demand as the summer travel rush fades.

“As such, we remain cautious on the pace of recovery from here as we head into more off-peak leisure travel periods this fall,” wrote Bank of America analyst Andrew Didora in a note published Monday.