The US aviation industry has reported a strong rebound in travel demand over the 4 July holiday weekend, with over 10 million domestic passengers travelling for the occasion – more than three times the number recorded over the same period in 2020.
TSA data suggests that a total of more than 10 million passengers travelled throughout the country between Thursday, 1 and Monday, 5 July, as passenger demand continues to increase off the back of a strong vaccine rollout in the country.
In fact, at 2,196,411 passengers, Friday, 2 July marked the busiest day for passenger travel since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Meanwhile, the country’s largest airline American Airlines reported a staggering 2.7 million passengers alone over the course of the weekend, a figure also three times higher than 2020.
According to an internal memo, American Airlines carried a total of 2.7 million passenger on over 26,000 flights across its combined mainline and regional operations between 1 and 5 July, 2021.
When compared with the same weekend last year, American conducted double the number of flights and flew three times as many passengers this year, which was “well above goal”, according to the company memo.
“It’s always a busy one for the airline industry, but after a challenging year, this weekend proved that people are ready to travel again,” it said.
On-time arrivals for the airline hit 88.9 per cent, with flight completion at 99.4 per cent, even despite extreme weather amid Hurricane Elsa, which caused delays and cancellations across the network on 1 and 2 July.
The news comes as the International Air Transport Association announced a growing rebound in overall air traffic demand in May this year, as demand hit 63 per cent of pre-pandemic levels – the strongest result seen since the early days of the pandemic.
“Total demand for air travel in May 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 62.7 per cent compared to May 2019,” the press release stated. “That was a gain over the 65.2 per cent decline recorded in April 2021 versus April 2019.”
International demand in May was 85.1 per cent below 2019, however a small boost from April’s decline of 87.2 per cent compared with two years ago.
With the travel season upon the northern hemisphere, Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general is pleased to see international markets improve and open up to vaccinated travellers, however not rapidly enough to “revive tourism jobs and reunite families.”
“Too many governments continue to act as if the only tool in their anti-COVID-19 arsenal is a blanket border closure or an arrival quarantine,” he said, despite a massive increase in vaccinations worldwide.
In light of the incremental increase, just yesterday London’s Heathrow Airport announced it will take part in a trial that would see fully vaccinated travellers entering from countries on the UK’s ‘amber list’ be fast-tracked through the airport’s screening process. The amber list includes places in the US.
US and UK airlines have been demanding the re-opening of transatlantic travel for months, and Willie Walsh said yesterday he believes a “relaxation in relation to transatlantic flying in the coming weeks” will happen, following the push for governments to pick up the pace.
Currently, 86 per cent of adults in the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine, while 64 per cent are fully vaccinated, and 157 million people in the US have also been vaccinated.