TSA reported numbers of people clearing security checkpoints has continued to grow, but the rate of growth has slowed. Monday the U.S. hit 25% of prior year travelers, while Tuesday that dropped back down to 21%. Extrapolating earlier growth rates didn’t make sense.
Perhaps a more useful indicator of the direction things are going is forward bookings. People are traveling today based on tickets that have already been purchased (though of course people can cancel their plans, and airlines have been waiving change fees on most tickets). How many people will travel tomorrow is based on travel purchases.
Overall travel purchases fell for the first time in nine weeks.
US booking numbers declined 6.2% week on week, due to rising COVID-19 infections, after eight weeks of solid week on week growth. There is likely a lot of uncertainty in the market and despite many states beginning to open, the “narrative of COVID-19 in the US has not improved” stated CarTrawler.
Kayak flight search data shows that customers are searching for flights less, too – down to levels last seen a month ago.
The big buildup in American Airlines flying for July focuses on Florida and the Gulf Coast, which looked to be doing well when travel was announced but have since seen significant growth in confirmed COVID-19 infections.
It’s going to be the very end of the year (holiday travel) or 2021 before recovery really begins in earnest. We should see much better therapeutics, possibly a vaccine – and sadly, potentially enough spread in the United States by then that the virus could slow down.