Flying High Once Again

Image Credit: alaskaair.com

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After a pandemic travel slumber, Americans are slowly but surely making their way back to the friendly skies.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 1.3 million people at airports on Friday, the highest figure in almost a year. You can almost taste those five pretzels you get in your inflight snack.

Waiting on the CDC to Clear Takeoff

After 2020 hit the airline industry like a thousand Icelandic volcanoes, there was literally and figuratively nowhere to go but up.

U.S. airline losses topped $35 billion last year, according to CNBC, and the industry hit a historic low point on April 14th, 2020 with just 87,500 travelers. Thankfully, those days are comfortably in the rearview, and the industry is experiencing several tailwinds:

  • Airlines got their own $15 billion boost in the latest round of government pandemic stimulus, which will allow them to keep workers on payroll through the end of September.
  • While the CDC continues to advise against non-essential travel, confidence is building with 13% of American adults having been fully vaccinated as of Friday.

Smooth Sailing Ahead? Despite the momentum, industry executives warn it will be some time before the travel & leisure industry is in the green:

  • Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival (the world’s largest cruise company) said that getting back to pre-pandemic revenues is unlikely until at least 2023.
  • In previous best-case scenarios, analysts didn’t expect airlines to significantly trim their losses until next year. But now some, including Southwest, Delta, Alaska, are looking at profitability by 2022.