TSA data on passengers screened indicates that a strong recovery in US airline traffic is underway. The upward trend line in traffic from earlier in the year is continuing in the first half of June. The following chart, with updated data through June 14th, shows the average daily passenger count by month. A strong recovery in traffic in 2021 has continued and airlines are increasing their capacity with additional domestic frequencies.
With pent-up demand for vacations and stimulus funding, we expect the 3rd quarter to continue to be strong for leisure travel. Business travel has not yet recovered to the same degree as the leisure market, but with many in-person industry events resuming, we expect business travel to slowly increase through the remainder of this year. Our team is among those resuming business travel in the second half of 2022.
Of course, many international borders remain closed, including Canada, and requirements for vaccinations, testing, and the risk of quarantines in the potential event of a false positive test continue to impact international travel. The multiple regional coronavirus variants and questions about the efficacy of vaccines against those new variants continue to hold down international business travel, which may not fully recover until late 2022 or early 2023. With a patchwork quilt of restrictions in place that are in a constant state of flux, planning for international travel, including testing protocols, remains difficult.
The Bottom Line:
The news is positive on a strong recovery in traffic, and the trend lines look as if a full recovery in domestic traffic is possible this year. While international travel will need to wait, domestic travel has certainly begun to rebound quite strongly and may exceed 2019 levels by year-end. There is good reason for optimism in countries with strong vaccination rates where the pandemic is waning.