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

A member of a ground crew walks past American Airlines planes parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

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 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 last a year ago, meaning airlines have far to go before recovering to normal levels, particularly in the crucial peak summer season.

American Airlines shares were up more than 8% in late-morning trading, while United Airlines was up more than 7%, Delta Air Lines was close to 7% higher, and Southwest Airlines was up close to 5%. The S&P 500 was little changed.

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