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Some Airlines Report an Uptick in Summer Travel Demand

For months, the coronavirus has rocked the airline industry. Empty planes and canceled reservations have led to billions in lost revenue; however, some airlines are reporting an uptick in travel demand as summer approaches.

Bookings Outpace Cancelations

On Tuesday, Southwest said customers are making more bookings than cancelations for June, describing it as a “modest improvement.” The company plans to operate 55% of the flights it did in June 2019, with each expected to be at 35% to 45% capacity. However, the company remains cautiously optimistic, stating, “The revenue environment remains uncertain and may require additional capacity reductions depending on passenger demand.”

United has also seen “a moderate improvement in demand” for domestic travel and some international destinations. The carrier plans to reduce its July operations by 75% as compared to 2019, but will “continue to proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 60-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand.”

Delta CFO Paul Jacobson has revealed the airline is also experiencing an increase in domestic travel demand, explaining new bookings are up “modestly versus our conservative forecast.” Meanwhile, American is seeing a higher load factor this month, with planes flying at 35% capacity, up from 15% in April.

Airport Foot Traffic

Although passenger traffic is down more than 90% compared to this time last year, the increased travel demand is showing at airports. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of May 18, nearly 3.5 million passengers passed through security at U.S. airports. This is down 92% from 2019, but up 3% from the first 18 days of April.

qofmiwok May 24, 2020

OMSHH I'm not sure what YOUR point is, but I think it's rude to tell someone they are "welcome to resign" instead of undertake required travel. As if it's going to be possible to get a new job anytime soon. Whether you personally think it's safe to fly or not, and even though at some level everyone has choices, some people are caught between a rock and a hard place.

AJNEDC May 22, 2020

When did sport become essential? It is one of the most non essential things as we have seen. We humans are sure an interesting bunch. You couldn't get me to travel in an airplane now for any flight more and two hours.

OMSHH May 22, 2020

MimiB22: Not sure what your point is... Your son in law is "opting" to travel this summer in spite of existing circunstances suggesting he shouldn't. If at some point in time, his job travel requirement turns out to be too risky for him, he is free to resign his position and find other employment where he has no travel requirement. Also, give a thought to the possibility that your son in law could be the one who is asymptomatic and is the one who is exposing his fellow travellers to the virus.

MimiB22 May 21, 2020

My son in law has booked air travel for this summer, not because he wants to or has a vacation planned, but because his profession requires he fly. He works in professional sports as one of thousands of essential support personnel who must travel to sport venues around the country. Besides flying and all the potential for exposure, he'll be staying in hotels, eat at restaurants, stand in lines and work in close proximity to countless people. Fans only see the professionals out on the fields and tracks and assume their safely is being assured via protocols being put in place. Maybe, maybe not, but what about the thousands also working to put on the tournaments and games? They risk exposure in order to enable an entertainment. Give a thought to what happens if anyone tests positive while out on the road, and give a thought to the public who may be exposed to these travelers.