As the pandemic hype fizzles out, Americans seem to be growing increasingly optimistic for the country’s economic future. In recent weeks, people by purchasing an increasing number of plane tickets, reversing the trend of canceled reservations, according to three major airlines.
On Tuesday morning, Delta, Southwest, and United reported they are preparing for growth as flight demand shows increased demand for air travel going into the summer.
According to Reuters, Delta has added more flights to their schedule than current demand justifies, in anticipation of increased travel following significant changes to their safety guidelines. To appease travelers’ coronavirus safety concerns, the airline announced that they are cutting first class seating capacity to 50% and main cabin seating to 60%, until at least June 30th, 2020. Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta, said that gaining consumer confidence in their cleanliness precautions is key to seeing vast increases in travel. Delta also announced they are on track to break even by the end of this year.
Southwest Airlines similarly anticipates seeing a turnaround next month as concerns wane. They reported in a regulatory filing on Tuesday they are seeing improvement in booking trends, which are now outpacing cancellations.
United Airlines also stated in a filing that their passenger bookings are increasing, particularly for domestic travel. They predict their international flights to be on a much slower road to recovery given global concerns, but these are likely to subside with time as well. The airline also reports fewer cancellations and higher demand for flights next month.
These reports came after the chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee made certain flight safety recommendations last week. These guidelines include recommendations that airlines leave at least one seat between all passengers, in addition to enforcing a 67% max seat capacity. The airlines themselves have also made efforts to increase traveler confidence such as TSA conducting temperature checks and additional aircraft cleaning procedures.
While these reports are big signs of a turning point, overall passenger load factor remains significantly down by about 90%, compared to 2019 levels. The airlines say it could be several years before they fully recover from the devastating economic hit.
However, if the positive trends continue, it will be an important turning point signaling impending economic recovery. This would validate President Trump’s predictions that America will come back with a boom due to pent-up demand.
Time will tell, but for now, promising signs point towards an imminent economic recovery.