The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced this morning that 831,789 travelers were passed through U.S. airport screeners on Sunday -- nearly a tenfold increase from mid-April. Airline stocks are hopping in response to the good news, with my plane-spotting colleague Lou Whiteman reporting this morning that most major airline tickers are up a solid 4% or more.
Increased air travel should be good news for companies that build and sell airplanes, too. Logically, the more people flying, the more need to buy new and service existing airplanes to carry all the people. So it's perhaps no surprise that this afternoon we also see shares of Boeing rising.
Still, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Air traffic may have been up tenfold on one particular day, but that's no guarantee it will stay up in the face of coronavirus infections that topped 5 million (roughly one in every 66 people) in the U.S. over the weekend.
For that matter, even if Sunday's numbers do hold up, 831,789 flyers is still barely 30% of the number of folks who were flying on airplanes a year ago. It's going to take a lot more than 831,789 passengers a day to turn the airline industry profitable again. It's going to take a lot more than 831,789 passengers a day to turn Boeing profitable again, too.
This recession isn't over yet by a long shot.