Domestic Airline Travel Begins To Stabilize, International Travel Remains Volatile: What You Need To Know

Recent airline travel in the U.S. over July 4 was more than double the levels seen in the year prior, according to TSA reports, and is approaching the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Even as leisure travel dwarfs that of business travel, domestic travel is on the rise, according to reporting from Marketplace

Airline Earnings Ahead: Both Delta Airlines Inc DAL and American Airlines AAL may be in for a bump, per Benzinga previous reporting. The earnings reports for each company are published later this month on July 14 and July 22, respectively.

The Travel Landscape: Many unknowns remain for major airline companies outside the U.S,  as there is much volatility in international travel, according to an International Air Transport Association report released Wednesday. 

In general, transport of air cargo has seen significant increases, registering 9.4% higher levels than those seen before the pandemic, and, since May, global air travel has been up despite lagging consumer confidence.

Nonetheless, international travel is fluctuating rapidly due to the volatility created by COVID-19 variants and because of the differences in how the virus has spread around the world, particularly as most global citizens are still in the process of getting vaccinated, per The New York Times

“Bookings are indeed volatile currently, due to changes in government policies and international travel restrictions,” IATA economists Arnaud Vanolli and Ezgi Gulbas wrote in an email to Benzinga.

“Those frequent changes mean that it is difficult for travelers to plan a trip with certainty. This is the case even in Europe, where there is already a high vaccine rollout.”

COVID-19 Dominates The Story: Due to ongoing concern over COVID-19 variants — as Google searches for the term skyrocketed in May, according to the report — travel between countries has varied significantly.

As the report highlights, flights between Portugal and the United Kingdom showed a striking reversal from May to June, shifting from an almost 40% increase to an 80% drop.

This may be partly due to COVID-19 cases trending upward in the United Kingdom, with over 32,000 cases recorded in the last three months, according to the BBC.

The virus and its variants appear to remain the largest impediment to international air travel.

“Even in COVID-safe countries, travel towards countries that have not controlled the pandemic is often restricted,” Vanolli and Gulbas said. 

Posted In: IATATravelEconomicsGeneral

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