Airline stocks bucked a market sell-off on Monday after airport screenings over the weekend rose above 1 million for the first time since mid-March, a sign more travelers are getting comfortable flying again despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The Transportation Security Administration screened 1.03 million people on Sunday, the most since March 16. That is still 60% lower from a year ago, when 2.6 million people passed through TSA airport checkpoints, showing airlines' pandemic-induced struggles are far from over.
But the figure still represents improvement. So far this month, daily airport screenings are down 65% compared with the first 18 days of October 2019. In April, screenings were down more than 90% from a year earlier.
Delta and United executives last week noted encouraging booking trends but warned investors that a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels, particularly for once-lucrative business travel, is likely years away.
United shares gained 3.9%, while Delta eked out a 0.1% gain on Monday. American and Southwest added 0.8% and 0.4%, respectively. The S&P 500 shed 1.6%.