Airline travel is bouncing back — but so are American coronavirus cases. That spike could put the aviation rebound in reverse.
United Airlines presented sobering facts to employees Monday that bookings are tumbling as Covid cases soar. Also hurting travel demand: regulations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that mandate travelers from the pandemic's US hotspots quarantine themselves for 14 days. The Wall Street Journal first reported the memo.
Near-term bookings at United's hub in Newark were only 16% of 2019 bookings through July 1. Just a few weeks earlier, United's bookings were down "only" 33% from a year earlier. Although United would not release the details of the briefing being given to its employees this week, it confirmed the facts detailed in the Journal's report.
Delta Air Lines confirmed to CNN that its booking trends in the New York area are similar to United's, although it did not release statistics.
Other airlines aren't commenting on their bookings. But other airlines' bookings are probably also falling as Covid-19 cases increase, said Philip Baggaley, chief credit analyst for airlines at Standard & Poor's.
"It certainly could be a jagged recovery," he said. "The initial surge in bookings, there was probably some pent-up demand in there. There's no doubt that the increase in [Covid-19] cases and quarantines throws a monkey wrench into it."
He said travel to the New York area, as well as Florida, Texas and Arizona will be particularly hard hit.
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