Will Airline Travel Finally Get Back to 2019 Levels?

A little more than two years ago, on March 11, 2020, the coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic. What was once just an endemic disease that began in Wuhan, China suddenly became a worldwide catastrophe, and the travel world – particularly airlines – was devastated by a precipitous fall.

Now, two years later, after many starts and stops and variants and hopeful wishes that the volume of air travel would return to its 2019 peak, it might finally be here.


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At least one expert thinks so.

According to an article in Forbes, Bank of America airline analyst Andrew Didora wrote in an analysts’ note that we’re almost there.

“Leisure demand remains robust as this week’s volumes stepped up to just (negative 1.4%) vs. 2019, which is the best level of the year,” Didora wrote. “We have heard from numerous airlines in our recent trips that leisure demand is ‘insatiable’ and pricing is showing larger gains.”

‘Insatiable’ is a pretty optimistic word to use, but Didora backed it up by noting that domestic pricing was 93 percent recovered this week compared to 80 percent recovered a month ago.

Indeed, a perfect storm might be brewing for a full air travel recovery. U.S. airports just boasted their third-biggest day of passenger volume during the pandemic era last week, coinciding with the start of college spring break vacations across the country.

Forbes noted that almost 10.6 million people were screened at airports from March 9 through 13, more than a similar four-day weekend stretch of 10.1 million during the pandemic high-water mark during Thanksgiving 2021.

Moreover, oil prices – albeit still almost triple the price per barrel since 2014 – have started to recede in recent days after hitting a peak, and winter is ending in about two weeks. That means the lucrative summer travel season is just around the corner.

Another good sign – daily spending on air travel on the Chase credit credits eclipsed 2019 levels for the first time since Jan. 29, 2020, according to JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker.

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