U.S. airlines say COVID-19 variants do not hurt bookings


Growing concerns about the rapidly expanding delta variant of COVID-19 have caused confusion in the stocks of major travel agencies, but airline executives are probably fully vaccinated with a high percentage of their best customers.

“We haven’t seen any impact on bookings and are getting stronger every week,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said Wednesday.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the same thing last week, adding that the variant continues to hinder international travel by delaying the opening of the border.

Over 2 million people a day, mostly summer vacationers, fill US airports. It’s a shift from the blockade summer of 2020.

Travel recovery was established earlier this year as vaccinations increased and cases of infectious diseases decreased. Subspecies are now accelerating three times the new cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States in the last two weeks, but only part of the January peak, but outbreaks in other countries. Is promoting.

Early in the pandemic, airlines saw that bad headlines about the virus would encourage many people to cancel their trips. For most of 2020, cancellations outweighed ticket sales. According to airline executives, Americans aren’t very clever about variants, as many of them are vaccinated.

United said the cancellation rate hasn’t changed in the last few weeks, although it remains higher than it was before the pandemic. It can be caused by millions of Americans, especially travelers, who have been vaccinated with COVID-19.

According to government statistics, about 57% of Americans of sufficient age to fire are fully vaccinated. United said 84% of frequent flyer program members are vaccinated.

Investors are creepy even if travelers aren’t driven by headlines. They are concerned that the rise of variants could cause the government to re-impose travel restrictions that could impede travel recovery.

Airline officials have urged the Biden administration to lift restrictions that prevent most Europeans from entering the United States, but the restrictions imposed in March 2020 remain. They say that many European countries have relaxed border restrictions and that reservations by American vacationers have skyrocketed this summer.

“We are working closely with the government and it’s a two-way conversation where they receive opinions from us and get opinions for them,” Kirby said on the phone with analysts and reporters. .. “We all want to make sure we do this safely.”

Kirby said the industry is willing to accept vaccination requirements as many other countries are demanding visitors from the United States and elsewhere.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that talks with other countries are ongoing without providing much detail. She was consistent in European countries welcoming Americans while the United States continued to ban most non-US citizens traveling from Europe.

“We give guidelines to American citizens. They make their own decisions about whether to travel to specific countries around the world.” The decision to resume overseas travel (to the United States) is me. Guided by our own public health and medical professionals. “

In trading Wednesday afternoon, American Airlines shares rose 4%, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines rose about 3%, and Delta Air Lines rose 2%. Cruise line and hotel inventories have also increased.


David K├Ânig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter