Leisure travel continues to recover, however, it is the recovery of business flying that will soon drive the attention of airlines.
International travel continues to lag far behind in all regions, while the recovery is led by domestic flying in countries that are advantaged by favorable geography.
Travel restrictions will remain the key factor driving airline resilience in 2021.
We’re a month into 2021 and where are we right now? While exiting 2020 was a psychological milestone like breaking through the tape at the finish line, 2021 is more like the start of another long lap.
As February begins, we’re heading down the back half of the second wave of infections. The global spike was long expected and predicted to incredible detail as far back as May. Beyond the epidemiological science of viral growth, social distancing, and the effect of vaccines, the world has also been forced to deal with public patience and psyche, both of which appear to be degrading over time.
In the United States, air travel continued its slow climb finding new highs during the holiday travel season, along with a new record in infections and deaths. Yet, in the face of new internationaltravel restrictions, the traffic recovery has been reversed, falling below the mid-December trough. This further separates the driving factors of the recovery – aligning less with economic demand and relying almost entirely on policies designed to curb the spread of the virus.
Yet, a clear trend in air travel is appearing worldwide: given available destinations, a global population is increasingly willing to travel. The divergence between leisure and business, domestic and international traffic has presented a fork in the road of recovery; paths likely to begin reconvergence in 2021.
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