TSA Plans to Add 6,000 Airport Screeners for Post-Covid Travel Rush

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The U.S. government wants to hire 6,000 new airport security screeners by the summer as progress in vaccinating people for Covid-19 is projected to lead to an increase in travel.

The Transportation Security Administration on Friday announced a nationwide recruitment effort, even as the coronavirus continues to significantly depress airline passenger levels.

Seasonal travel trends -- summer is the busiest time of the year for airlines -- and a forecast of progress in addressing the coronavirus pandemic led to the hiring, the TSA said in the release. Already, Covid-19 cases are down sharply from January peaks, and vaccination rates are expanding.

“We expect to screen a higher number of travelers regularly by the summer months and will need additional officers to support our critical mission,” Melanie Harvey, acting executive assistant administrator for TSA’s security operations, said in the release.

The number of TSA security officers fell from 50,000 last year to about 46,000 now, according to an agency statement. The agency had curtailed hiring while the pandemic caused steep declines in air travel.

The TSA screened an average of 913,000 people a day over the past week at U.S. airports, which is 40% of the number that flew in the same period a year earlier, weeks before the spreading virus crimped many aspects of daily life.

Air travel levels have averaged well below half of traditional levels since mid-March 2020. While U.S. unemployment is still high, consumers have accumulated additional savings in the past year, some of which could be spent on travel when conditions allow.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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