U.S. domestic air travel starts to rebound: best performance expected during July 4th Independence Day weekend

The United States is seeing the beginning of a rebound in domestic air travel, reports travel analytics company ForwardKeys, who expects the upcoming July 4th weekend to be a high point after the drastic drop in aviation from the coronavirus pandemic over the past four months.

An analysis of new flight tickets issued between the start of the year and mid-June shows that the bottom of the market was during the first week of April. From then, there has been a steady climb, reaching 42% of 2019 levels during the third week of June.

Closer analysis, by type of tickets issued, shows that the recovery is being driven much more strongly by leisure bookings, which have substantially outpaced business bookings since the collapse in the market in early March.

     As of June 23, the number of new U.S. domestic air tickets issued for travel between June 20 and July 18, a fortnight before and a fortnight after the Independence Day holiday, were 55.8% behind the equivalent period last year. However, bookings for the start of the Independence Day weekend were just 16.9% behind the same day in 2019.

A likely reason why this year’s Independence Day travel bookings are relatively less badly affected is that July 4 falls on a Saturday in 2020, creating a public holiday on Friday, July 3.

Economists are expected to pay careful attention to signs of recovery in the aviation sector, because domestic tourism represented 4.5% of the U.S. economy in 2019 – a trillion-dollar industry, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Olivier Ponti, VP, Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “It’s inspiring to observe that a rebound is underway; and that Independence Day is the high-water mark. However, a major unknown is how the COVID-19 outbreak will progress and how significantly the latest spikes could arrest the recovery in flight bookings.”