U.S. air travel passengers jumped 19% in May over prior month

FILE PHOTO: Passengers queue at LAX airport before Memorial Day weekend, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease continues, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. airlines carried 56.6 million passengers in May, up 19% over April but still 30% below 2019 levels, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Monday.

The airlines carried 27% fewer domestic passengers and 51% fewer international passengers in May versus pre-pandemic May 2019 when there were 81 million passengers. Traffic in May was up more than 600% over what U.S. airlines carried in May 2020 during COVID-19 shutdowns when there were just 8 million U.S. airline passengers.

The data covers the 18 largest U.S. airlines that represent more than 90% of all traffic.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis