Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Air Travel Boom is a Bust

Inside the forward section of a TWA Lockheed Constellation

By Jonathan Spira on 31 August 2021
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Air travel was expected to be this summer’s comeback kid.  As the pandemic seemingly eased, travelers spent $6 billion on domestic flights in June, a record amount.

“Summer travel spending will be record-breaking,” one travel magazine’s headline stated.

But that was June and it was not to be: The Delta variant, originally known as the India variant or B.1.167.2, brought a quick halt to any such increases.

Instead, July domestic flight bookings fell year over year to $5.26 billion, down 13% from the previous month and 16% from the same period in 2019, according to data from Adobe’s Digital Economic Index.

It gets even better.

August numbers fell 33% to $2.9 billion compared to the same period in 2019 in the first three weeks of the month.

The world’s largest carrier, American Airlines, said that revenue would be weaker than expected amidst a rise in coronavirus cases that has impacted new bookings, and other airlines including Southwest and Frontier made similar pronouncements.

“This has been and we expect will continue to be a very choppy recovery month,” said the airline’s chief revenue officer, Vasu Raja, speaking at a Raymond James investor conference.

Meanwhile, airlines that have ordered new aircraft and brought back furloughed flight attendants and pilots are feeling the squeeze.

“The company has recently experienced a deceleration in close-in bookings and an increase in close-in trip cancellations in August 2021, which are believed to be driven by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant,” Southwest Airlines said in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As Frontier Airlines noted in its quarterly report, “the impact of the Delta variant on bookings, and the duration of that impact, are difficult to predict.”

We concur.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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