Flight Bookings Decline In August As Delta Surges
Airline travelers are planning fewer trips as the delta variant of the coronavirus surges, according to an analysis by Adobe Analytics, which recorded the second-straight month of declining bookings in August.
Usnews.com reports that demand for air travel began rising as vaccinations increased and coronavirus cases decreased earlier in the year, with flight bookings nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels by June, but the sudden rise of the delta variant “has all but blunted the path to recovery,” the analysis says.
U.S. consumers spent $6 billion on domestic flights in June, just 5% below pre-pandemic levels. But July saw a 13% decline from June’s high and a 16% decrease from July 2019 levels, while an even starker decline followed in the first three weeks of August, according to the analysis, with spending falling to 33% below the same time two years prior.
“Domestic flight bookings in August thus far show that U.S. consumers are taking the Delta variant seriously and once again shifting their travel plans,” lead analyst Vivek Pandya at Adobe Digital Insights said in a statement. “At the current rate, we expect spend[ing] in the month of August to be significantly under July. These two months historically have similar spend[ing] levels, once again showing that like in 2020, the pandemic will continue dictating the terms.”
Looking forward to the upcoming holiday weekend, domestic flight bookings for Labor Day weekend are 16% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the report, which paints a picture of the continuous struggle facing the airline industry since the coronavirus began grounding flights more than a year and a half ago.
Earlier this month, United Airlines became the first carrier to institute a vaccine mandate for all of its employees. Last week, Delta Air Lines announced that all employees will be required to either be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or undergo weekly testing and pay a $200 monthly health insurance fee.