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Expand chart
Data: Airlines for America; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Omicron fears notwithstanding, this is a time of year when many of us are traveling by air for the holidays.

A look at passenger traffic statistics shows improvement compared to the worst of the pandemic's first wave, but business travel, a major revenue driver for airlines, is still down compared to pre-pandemic days.

Why it matters: The airline industry's financial fate is strongly tied to the waves of the pandemic, according to data from Airlines for America, which advocates for U.S. airlines.

Details: Although passengers are back in the skies, there are now fewer flights to choose from in many areas. On average, the number of scheduled flights set to depart from all 50 states in January 2022 is down by 12 percentage points compared to Jan. 2019, which was pre-pandemic.

  • A few locations have bucked that trend, including the state of Colorado and Washington's Reagan National Airport.
  • States that have lost the most outbound flights include Georgia, California and Pennsylvania.
  • Another slide in the latest AIA deck shows changes in the aircraft fleet of U.S. carriers, with 5,780 aircraft flying pre-pandemic, including 495 twin-aisle planes like the Boeing 767, to 5,389 aircraft, including 385 wide-bodies.
  • That trend reflects the retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft types.

Go deeper

America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic

Data: BLS; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The shortage of workers in the U.S. has become a flywheel of doom, messing up our lives and society writ large. And many of the underlying problems that led to this breakdown are bigger than the pandemic.

The big picture: Millions of immigrants, older workers and mothers are missing from the labor force. Those labor shortages create problems like supply chain woes, school closures, and skyrocketing child care costs — and some of those problems further exacerbate the worker shortages.

Updated 9 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.