American Airlines and United Airlines, the two largest US carriers, said they have not seen a drop in air travel demand heading into autumn.
“We’re seeing a really strong September,” United’s senior vice-president for international network and alliances Patrick Quayle told an industry conference on Wednesday.
“Historically [there’s] always a drop off between August and September, and we’re not seeing that,” he said. In particular, demand for trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe remained the same in September as they did in summer.
Quayle said demand — which is resulting in “really strong” yields — is being driven by bookings for premium and premium economy seats.
American Airlines executives also reported that revenues have surpassed 2019 levels in certain segments.
“Our transatlantic revenue performance has actually exceeded 2019 levels,” American’s chief executive Robert Isom told the conference, crediting “a lot of yield” for the growth.
He said domestic business revenue is 105 per cent of 2019 levels, driven by small and medium-sized businesses.
“As we look to the future in the fall, I anticipate being able to build from here because there are other aspects of the network that really haven’t come back fully online,” Isom said.
American’s executives believe there is international upside in travel to and from Asia and South America, particularly as more people return to the office.
Chicago-based United lifted its sales forecast on Wednesday, and now expects third-quarter revenues to be 12 per cent above the same period in 2019, up from prior guidance of 11 per cent. The carrier also expects to fly more in the third quarter as it has been improving operational reliability.
While air travel disruptions have improved since the start of the summer, carriers are still struggling.
“To make real improvements, it’s not something that happens overnight,” Isom said.