US air travel rebound

LONDON, 3 July 2020: A rebound is underway in the domestic aviation in the US, and one of the high spots was the 4 July long weekend that marks American Independence Day, says ForwardKeys, a travel analytics company.

An analysis of new flight tickets issued between the start of the year and mid-June shows that the market bottomed out during the first week of April. From then, there has been a steady climb, reaching 42% of 2019 levels during the third week of June.

Closer analysis, by type of tickets issued, shows that the recovery is being driven much more strongly by leisure bookings, which have substantially outpaced business bookings since the collapse in the market in early March.

As of 23 June, the number of new US domestic air tickets issued for travel between 20 June and 18 July, a fortnight before and a fortnight after the Independence Day holiday, were 55.8% behind the equivalent period last year. However, bookings for the start of the Independence Day weekend were just 16.9% behind the same day in 2019.

A likely reason why this year’s Independence Day travel bookings are relatively less badly affected could be attributed to the 4 July falling on a Saturday. Consequently, the public holiday begins a day earlier on Friday 3 July, a day in lieu that gives holidaymakers a long weekend without having to take time off work.

Economists are expected to pay careful attention to signs of recovery in the aviation sector, because domestic tourism represented 4.5% of the US economy in 2019 – a trillion-dollar industry, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

ForwardKeys VP Insights, Olivier Ponti said: “It’s inspiring to observe that a rebound is underway; and that Independence Day is the high-water mark. However, a major unknown is how the COVID-19 outbreak will progress and how significantly the latest spikes could arrest the recovery in flight bookings.”

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