Domestic Air Bookings on the Rise

A rebound of sorts may be underway for the domestic airline industry, punctuated by a surge in bookings surrounding the July 4 holiday period, according to ForwardKeys, a travel analytics company.

Since June 23, the number of new U.S. domestic airline tickets issued for travel between June 20 and July 18 was 55.8 percent “behind the equivalent period last year,” the company said, adding that bookings for the start of the holiday weekend were only 16.9 percent lower than “the same day in 2019.”

ForwardKeys’ analysis of new tickets being issued between the beginning of 2021 to the middle of June found that the market bottomed out during the first week of April. Since that point in time, the level of new air tickets issued reached 42 percent of last year’s levels.

The company’s analysis noted that 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.”

The company theorized that a reason why July 4 holiday bookings fared better than expected may be because July 4 occurs on a Saturday this year. “Consequently, a public holiday is created on Friday, July 3, and with it, the opportunity for a long weekend break without having to take time off work, whereas it fell on a Thursday last year,” ForwardKeys said.

Nonetheless, the forward movement in bookings is a positive sign for the recovery domestic airline industry. “It’s inspiring to observe that a rebound is underway and that Independence Day is the high-water mark,” said Olivier Ponti, Forward Keys’ vice president, insights. “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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