Air travel has traditionally been characterized by seasonal peaks and valleys. Loosely defined by school calendars, more passengers take to the skies during the summer months, holiday breaks, and spring break season.
Of the many characteristics of air travel changed by COVID-19, seasonality is the most recent to return. However, for the United States, the airline industry faces a starkly different circumstance than it did leading into 2020 — not enough seats. The result is a very different view of seasonality in 2022 than existed in 2019.
Particularly leading into the fall and winter months, the health of air travel has been determined by the travel that continues to occur despite seasonal impacts, as business travel takes over. Higher fares leading into the fall conference season were looked for in order to offset the high volume leisure travel of the summer.
Today, seasonality continues to exist. What is different, however, is the way in which seasonality is presenting in the fall numbers. Rather than stable fares and falling passenger numbers, the U.S. is seeing stable passenger numbers and falling fares.
Taking a broad look at the U.S. market in this TAC Analysis, we consider what falling fares mean for the coming holiday months and into 2023. Despite warnings of softness, we examine how the seemingly contradictory lower fares are a further sign of air travel demand returning to normal.
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