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TSA airport screenings hit record low during coronavirus pandemic

Around 2,000-3,000 passengers per day are boarding flights at Sea-Tac Airport, a significant drop from last year’s average due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SEATTLE — The travel and airline industry took a massive economic hit due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as people across the country stick closer to home.

Sea-Tac International Airport spokesperson Perry Cooper said Wednesday this is normally a busy time of the year with spring break travel, but this year has seen a significant drop in passengers.

Cooper said Sea-Tac Airport usually sees an average of 51,000 passengers boarding flights a day in the spring, with highs in the low 60,000 range. But this year, only around 2,000-3,000 passengers per day are boarding flights at the airport, not including arriving or connecting passengers.

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When airlines report their numbers for March later this month, “we’ll get a really good picture of the difference," said Cooper.

Nationwide, 97,130 individuals were screened at TSA checkpoints on Tuesday, according to TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

Farbstein said this is the first time screenings dipped below 100,000 during the pandemic, a record low. For comparison, 2,091,056 people passed through TSA security checkpoints one year ago Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines announced it will cut its flight schedule in April and May by 80% from normal levels, citing reduced demand for travel due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The 80% cut in flights is deeper than the cuts the company previously announced last month.

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In its earlier announcement of cuts, Alaska Airlines' CEO, president, and other high-ranking officials will take a pay reduction through September 30. Annual pay increases to employees were suspended, and hours were cut back.

At least one TSA agent working at Sea-Tac Airport has tested positive for COVID-19.

Coronavirus | Facts not Fear