The US air travel recovery continues to build momentum. In January the US averaged 761,233 daily passengers, February saw 873,084, March saw 1.22 million, April saw 1.4 million, May saw 1.6 million, June saw 1.9 million, July saw 2 million. We are six days in August and the daily average remains at 2 million. In August 2019 the daily average was 2.4 million passengers.
Based on the first few days of August 2021, we could see 82 million passengers for the month or a daily average of 2.7 million. August 2019 saw 75 million passengers.
The critical question is this: do US airlines have the capacity to move that much domestic traffic? There was talk of pent-up travel demand – but this is surely greater than expected. Take a look at the following chart. The 2021 trend seems to have peaked in July. But we don’t think it has peaked. We will not be surprised to see August 2021 be a very good month.
The delta between August 2019 and August 2021 isn’t that much of a stretch. Indeed it seems to us that the primary reason August ’21 does not eclipse August ’19 is the staffing and network limitations among the US airlines. News of flight cancelations has been de rigueur of late. US airlines have not re-staffed quickly enough, and to be fair, few expected the recovery to be so sharp. As that saying goes, “When it rains, it pours”. The challenge facing US airlines now is one they much prefer to what they faced in March 2020.