These eerie photos show LAX as a ghost town. Passenger air travel is down more than 90%

Tom Bradley International Terminal is nearly empty with the coronavirus outbreak
A lone passenger wearing personal protective equipment wanders through an empty Tom Bradley International Terminal as the coronavirus outbreak has brought passenger traffic to a near halt.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The number of Americans getting on airplanes has sunk to a level not seen in more than 60 years as people shelter in their homes to avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 94,931 people on Wednesday, a drop of 96% from a year ago and the second straight day under 100,000.

The official tally of people who passed through TSA checkpoints exaggerates the number of travelers — if that is possible — because it includes some airline crew members and people still working at shops inside airport security.

Isaac Stevens of Myrtle Beach, S.C., makes his way to his connecting flight at LAX.
Isaac Stevens of Myrtle Beach, S.C., makes his way to his connecting flight at LAX.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Historical daily numbers only go back so far, but the nation last averaged fewer than 100,000 passengers a day in 1954, according to figures from trade group Airlines for America. It was the dawn of the jet age. The de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jetliner, was just a few years old, and Boeing was running test flights with the jet that would become the iconic 707.

As air travel became safer and more affordable, the passenger numbers grew nearly every year until 2001. There was no commercial air travel in the U.S. for several days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and people were slow to get back on planes — U.S. passenger traffic didn’t grow again until 2003.

It could be longer this time. Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies said that fewer than half the Americans it surveyed about 10 days ago say they will get on a plane within six months of the spread of the virus flattening. A Stifel Nicolaus analyst estimated that air travel demand won’t return to pre-outbreak levels until the middle of next year under the best outcome, and it’s likely to be later.

Korean Air agents sanitize the check-in counters at an empty Tom Bradley International Terminal.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A passenger checks in for a flight at the empty Tom Bradley International Terminal.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Tom Bradley International Terminal is empty as the coronavirus outbreak has brought passenger traffic at LAX to a near halt.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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A few passengers wait at a Southwest Airlines baggage pickup carousel inside Terminal One at LAX.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Taxi and ride-share pickup lanes are empty at LAX.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

These are some of the unusual new scenes across the Southland during the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, long known as brash, verbose and stubbornly hands-on, has been on a mission to force changes in the living conditions for the homeless people of L.A.

Solvang, Calif., with its windmills and half-timbered architecture, draws more than 1½ million visitors a year. It’s a virtual ghost town now.

Los Angeles Times’ visual coverage of the coronavirus crisis