US airlines welcome inflection point in domestic demand

Premium Analysis

By most US airline accounts, it looks as if the pent-up demand that's dominated discourse for the past six months of 2020 into 2021 is finally being unleashed, as booking curves widen and yields for the country's busy summer high season look promising.

Of course, that demand is all leisure driven and concentrated in the domestic and short haul international markets.

At this point, it is anyone's guess when a large number of borders will open; but US operators think the same demand scenario that is occurring domestically could play out for long haul travel. However, the window for travel to Europe during the summer high season is shrinking quickly even as the EU has signaled it could allow US vaccinated travelers to visit the region this summer.

Even corporate demand is beginning to thaw, and some operators believe that a 50% recovery in US business travel could occur before the end of the year. But over the longer term, whether or not corporate travel will fully recover remains an unknown.

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