According to Peter Kern, Expedia CEO, CNN reported a travel boom was about to replace vacation deprivation.
Travel Industry Sees Boom In Bookings After Travel Deprivation
He told Julia Chatterley of CNN earlier this week that people were beginning to think about their future travel very quickly. With reservations on the travel website for some parts of the United States, this summer fully booked, he had expectations of Europe following as the number of vaccinations grew.
But, travel industry normalcy was a long way off still due to the lack of business travel as also the protracted closure of many international borders. Also, Americans were still being urged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even those who had been vaccinated, against undertaking travel.
However, leisure travellers looking for a getaway had helped increase demand for US airlines, Airbnb, and hotel chains.
According to commentators, there were some major signs of a travel turnaround:
Air travel rising
Executives from American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United all said this week that they had seen strong demand for seats from leisure travelers. Bookings had also been especially brisk with the start of the traditional spring-break period going into summer.
According to American Airlines CEO Dough Parker, the last three weeks had been the best three weeks as regards advanced ticket sales since the pandemic hit. He added the airline was getting very close to the levels seen in 2019 in terms of total bookings.
Similarly buoyed by the development, Robin Hayes, CEO JetBlue, said there was a lot of pent-up demand, adding, with people getting vaccinated, they were jumping on aeroplanes to see people they had not seen in a year.
Ed Bastian, CEO Delta Air Lines, said in a note to employees Thursday that it had seen positive momentum in recent weeks. He added that it could sometime soon break even. He added that gave him optimism that a return in demand was underway.
TSA numbers growing
Further, data from the Transportation Security Administration mirrored the increased demand.
Air travel was up from a year ago for the first time since the pandemic hit, and around 1.4 million people had passed through US airport security checkpoints on Thursday, as per the TSA, up from the 780,000 who had been screened last year on the same day.
The last seven days had seen over 8.8 million people fly, with over 1 million people screened each of the last eight days, which was the longest such stretch of the pandemic.
However, the numbers Thursday were still at a level that was highly depressed; it was roughly 60% of the traffic the same day in pre-pandemic 2019.
Bookings for small beach towns, warm-weather locales and access to state and national parks were fueling Airbnb and the home-sharing website this week said that it saw more bookings due to travel dreams hit by the pandemic.
Among the cities and regions that had figured most in searches on Airbnb were southern Maine, Montana and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. The number of people who searched for properties with outdoor space was 35 times higher as against the same travel period a year ago.
Meanwhile, Extended Stay America announced this week that it was being taken private in a $6 billion deal, which came as the latest green shoot for the beleaguered hotel industry, after a dismal 2020.
With 650 hotels across the US, the budget-minded chain fared better last year as against its competitors as it attracted travelling medical professionals and other essential workers who were required to work in the pandemic.
The company would be evenly split among Blackstone and Starwood Capital, with the owners betting that the chain would continue to grow.