Upward Trend in Bookings Leads Airlines to Expanding Routes and Services

Upward Trend in Bookings Leads Airlines to Expanding Routes and Services

By:Marlene Goldman
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Airlines expanding routes and services as the world’s airline industry is seeing an upward trajectory in bookings, leading to an optimistic expansion of routes and services in 2022.

With some airlines offering more capacity and new tickets sales rising, one industry analyst predicts airline revenues will turn positive in the second half of 2022, compared to the same quarter as 2019.

Delta, in recent reports, forecast profits returning by this March, with no adverse effects on booking in the U.S. from the Omicron variant past the President’s Day holiday weekend in mid- February. United Airlines also reported that March travel bookings have stabilized the demand for transatlantic travel during the summer is exceeding 2019 levels. American Airlines announced it is beginning to see an uptick in reservations.

Global traffic, passenger airline departures are up

The news comes as airlines are adding new lift from destinations around the world. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) published its latest forecasts in which it indicates that global air traffic should return to between 69% and 74% of its pre-crisis level in 2022, against 51% in 2021 and 40% in 2020.

In the U.S., passenger airline departures were at about 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels for the second week of January, with international flight rates just trailing the number of domestic flights operated that week according to a weekly report, “Emerging from the Pandemic,” produced by Airlines for America (A4A), a trade association for North American airlines.

TSA checkpoint volumes were at about 75 percent of 2019 levels in mid-January, as throughput nears the levels of two years ago, the report said.

Four U.S. airlines—JetBlue, Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit—were offering more capacity in the first quarter of 2022 than the same period of 2019.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” said John Heimlich, A4A’s Vice President and Chief Economist, adding he anticipates airline revenues will turn positive in the second half of 2022, compared to the same quarter as 2019.

New ticket sales have also been rising, though demand for corporate and long-haul international air travel is still working its way back, leaving revenues lagging, according to the A4A report. In the first half of November, the U.S. had reached almost half the corporate travel ticketing that it saw in 2019.

“We’re not back to 2019 levels on volume or fares, so therefore we are not back on the more important metric which is operating revenues,” Heimlich said. “We hope 2022 will be a profitable year.”

Which Routes Are Performing Well?

People are eager to travel, with long weekends and holidays performing best, according to Heimlich. In December, demand was notably strong in the outdoor-oriented locales such as of Montana, Wyoming and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We’ve done very well with Mexico and the Dominican Republic—places that are shorter haul, leisure oriented, unrestricted and VFR (visiting friends and relatives) oriented,” Heimlich said.

In December, Cancun and London Heathrow were the busiest foreign air-travel gateways to and from the U.S. There have been more departures to Mexico than pre-pandemic.

With business travel still down from pre-pandemic levels, airlines are changing their routes and strategies, said Jay Sorensen, president of the IdeaWorksCompany, which specializes in brand development in the airline industry.

“The model used to be that you attempt to serve a route at least daily or six days a week and that business routes needed more frequency than that because they needed flights to align with their business schedules, especially on the shorter routes,” Sorensen explained. “Now network airlines—American, United, Lufthansa, Air France, Singapore—are not serving routes every day. They are choosing days of the week more attractive to leisure travelers and putting more frequency there. That is something new; that is something they learned from carriers like Frontier and Allegiant.”

While leisure travel is nearly back to 100 percent, one business traveler leaving the system has to be replaced by three or four leisure travelers to keep the revenue neutral, said Ben Baldanza, an economist and former CEO of Spirit Airlines interviewed prior to the merger announcement between Spirit and Frontier.

To compensate, both Sorensen and Baldanza agree the trend is leaning toward fewer business class seats and more premium economy, which can accommodate more passengers.

“The price difference isn’t as great going from economy to premium economy than economy to business class, so it wouldn’t surprise me if you saw a trend of more premium economy and a little less business class,” Baldanza said.

Delta and other airlines are reporting domestic business travel is about at 60% of what it was in 2019, Baldanza said.

“The question is, is it going to get back to 100 percent of 2019? I think it will,” he said.

New Flights

Here is a sampling of new flights to and from US and international airports to destinations with ALHI member properties.

United States

ATL Atlanta

AMS Amsterdam (Delta)
LHR London (Delta)
MUC Munich (Delta)

AUS Austin

AMA Amarillo, Texas (Southwest)
CUN Cancun (American)
CHS Charleston, S.C. (Southwest)
DEN Denver (American)
RSW Fort Myers, Fla. (American)
JAX Jacksonville, Fla. (American)
MCI Kansas City, Mo. (American)
SJD Los Cabos, Mexico (American)
NAS Nassau, Bahamas (American)
OKC Oklahoma City (American)
ONT Ontario, Calif. (Southwest)
PFN Panama City Beach, Fla. (Southwest)
RVR Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (American)
PVR Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Southwest)
PUJ Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (American)
STL St. Louis (American)
SLC Salt Lake City (American)
SJU San Juan, Puerto Rico (American)
SRQ Sarasota, Fla. (American)
SRQ Sarasota/Bradenton (Southwest)
VPS Destin/Fort Walton Beach (Southwest)

BOS Boston

AVL Ashville (Jet Blue)
BWI Baltimore (Delta)
DFW Dallas-Ft. Worth (Delta)
DEN Denver (Delta)
MCI Kansas City (Jet Blue)
LHR London (American)
LHR London (Jet Blue)
MKE Milwaukee (Jet Blue)
JFK New York (Delta)
LGA New York (LGA) (Delta)
FCO Rome (Delta)
SAN San Diego (Delta)
YYZ Toronto (YYZ) (Delta)
YVR Vancouver (Jet Blue)

ORD Chicago

MXP Milan (United)
FCO Rome (United)
ZRH Zurich (United)

DFW Dallas-Ft. Worth

BOS Boston (Delta)
LGA New York (Delta)

DEN Denver

CZM Cozumel, Mexico (Southwest)
FRA Frankfurt (United)
SUN Friedman Memorial Airport (United)
LHR London (United)
MUC Munich (United)
ECP Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (United)
PNS Pensacola International Airport (United)
SRQ Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (United)

FLL Fort Lauderdale

PUJ Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Southwest)

RSW Fort Myers, Fla.

FRA Frankfurt (Lufthansa)

Hawaii

SMF Sacramento and KOA Kona (Southwest)
SMF Sacramento and OGG Maui (Southwest)
SAN San Diego and KOA Kona (Southwest)
SAN San Diego and OGG Maui (Southwest)
SJC San Jose, Calf. and LIH Lihue (Southwest)

LAS Las Vegas

BOI Boise (Alaska)
MUC Munich (Lufthansa)

MIA Miami

DOM Dominica (American)
SLC Salt Lake City (American)

MKE Milwaukee

BOS Boston (Jet Blue)
JFK New York (Jet Blue)

New York (ERW, JFK, LGA)

ERW Newark to DUB Dublin (United)
ERW Newark to FCO Rome (United)
ERW Newark to FRA Frankfurt (United)
ERW Newark to SXF Berlin (United)

JFK New York to AMS Amsterdam (Delta)
JFK New York to FCO Rome (Delta)
JFK New York to FRA Frankfurt (Delta)

JFK New York to MCI Kansas City (Jet Blue)
JFK New York to LHR London (Delta)
JFK New York to MXP Milan (Delta)
JFK New York to MKE Milwaukee (Jet Blue)
JFK New York to SJD Los Cabos (Delta)
JFK New York to YVR Vancouver (Jet Blue)

LGA New York to BNA Nashville
LGA New York to DFW Dallas-Ft. Worth (Delta)
LGA New York to IAH Houston Delta
LGA New York to MSY New Orleans (Jet Blue)
LGA New York to ORD Chicago (Delta)

MSY New Orleans

LGA New York (Jet Blue)
IAD Washington, D.C. (Jet Blue)

OKC Oklahoma City

AUS Austin (American)

SLC Salt Lake City

AUS Austin (American)
FRA Frankfurt (Lufthansa)
MIA Miami (American)

San Francisco (SFO)

ASE Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (United)

SEA Seattle

LHR London (American)

IAD Washington, D.C.

SXF Berlin (United)
CPH Copenhagen to JFK New York (Delta)
FRA Frankfurt (United)
GVA Geneva to EWR Newark (United)
GVA Geneva to JFK New York (United)
LWB Greenbrier Valley Regional Airport (United)
JAX Jacksonville, Fla., to LGA (Jet Blue)
LHR London Heathrow to JFK (Jet Blue)
LGW London Gatwick Airport to JFK (Jet Blue)
MUC Munich to JFK New York (Delta)
BNA Nashville (Jet Blue)
MSY New Orleans, La. (Jet Blue)
PWM Portland, Maine (Jet Blue)
SRQ Sarasota, Fla., to LGA (Jet Blue)
SAV Savannah, Ga., to LGA (Jet Blue)
YYZ Toronto to LGA New York (Delta)
ZRH Zurich to JFK New York (Delta)

 

International

AMS Amsterdam

ATL Atlanta (KLM)
BOS Boston (KLM)
ORD Chicago (KLM)
IAH Houston (KLM)
LAS Las Vegas (KLM)
LAX Los Angeles (KLM)
MSP Minneapolis (KLM)
JFK New York
MIA Miami (KLM)
SFO San Francisco (KLM)
IAD Washington (KLM)

CUN Cancun

AUS Austin (American)
MEX Mexico City (Volaris)
SFO San Francisco (Alaska)
SUN Friedman Memorial Airport (United)

DOM Dominica

MIA Miami (American)

FRA Frankfurt

BER Berlin (Lufthansa)
HAM Hamburg (Lufthansa)
MUC Munich (Lufthansa)
PMI Palma de Mallorca (Lufthansa)

GDL Guadalajara

MAD Madrid (Aeromexico)

LHR/LGW London

ATL Atlanta (Delta)
BOS Boston (American)
BOS Boston (Jet Blue)
DEN Denver (United)
MBJ Montego Bay (Virgin Atlantic)
JFK New York (Delta)
JFK New York (Jet Blue)
JFK New York to LGW London Gatwick (Jet Blue)
SEA Seattle (American)

MEX Mexico City

CUN Cancun (Volaris)
TIJ Tijuana (Volaris)

MBJ Montego Bay

LHR London (Virgin Atlantic)
MAN Manchester (Virgin Atlantic)

MUC Munich

SXF Berlin (Lufthansa)
CUN Cancún (Lufthansa)
DUS Dusseldorf (Lufthansa)
HAM Hamburg (Lufthansa)
LAS Las Vegas (Lufthansa)
PUJ Punta Cana (Lufthansa)

NAS Nassau, Bahamas

AUS Austin (American)

CDG Paris

ATL Atlanta (Air France)
SXF Berlin (Air France)
BOS Boston (Air France)
ORD Chicago (Air France)
DTW Detroit (Air France)
IAH Houston (Air France)
LAX Los Angeles (Air France)
MIA Miami (Air France)
MUC Munich (Air France)
JFK New York (Air France)
SEA Seattle (Air France)
SFO San Francisco (Air France)
IAD Washington DC (Air France)