Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the US has reported a severe drop in the total number of passengers screened throughout its airport security checkpoints in 2020.
In 2020, the agency screened nearly 324 million passengers, which is 39% of the approximately 824 million total passengers screened in 2019.
TSA administrator David Pekoske said: “In 2020, TSA implemented significant operational changes across its entire security checkpoint environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The speed and degree of change was unmatched in our 19-year history.
“The flexibility and agility of the men and women across TSA is a testament to their dedication to our collective transportation security mission. Our entire workforce, including screening officers, canine handlers, inspectors and federal air marshals, continues to do everything possible to protect our colleagues and airline passengers, and I am grateful for their adaptiveness and resilience.”
On 14 April 2020, the agency reported its lowest travel volume of only 87,500 passengers, which represented only 4% of the passenger volume documented on the same day of 2019.
To reduce physical contact and protect staff and travellers, TSA reformed security checkpoint procedures across more than 440 federalised airports nationwide.
The agency installed acrylic barriers, credential authentication technology (CAT) units, computed tomography (CT) equipment and other technologies to increase security and reduce touchpoints at the airports.
In 2020, TSA installed 6,873 acrylic barriers at 384 airports and around 927 CAT units at 125 locations.
CAT units permit travellers to scan their own ID to complete the identity verification procedure, thereby removing touch points.
TSA also deployed over 311 CT units at 135 airports to enable TSA officers to review a 3D image of a passenger’s luggage, reducing the need to examine the contents of the bag.
The agency expects travel volumes to grow steadily, however, it also aniticipates volume to remain below pre-pandemic levels through most of this year.