WASHINGTON – Of all the industries struggling because of the COVID-19 lockdown, tourism is among the hardest hit.
Despite ramped up sanitation efforts and the marketing to prove it, the travel industry is yet to be restored to “normal.” Not because of all of the different safety measures now in place due to COVID-19, but because of the noticeable drop in travelers and revenue still yet to be recovered.
Now, more than six months into the pandemic, air travel is picking up slightly. The TSA reported a pandemic-record of 968,673 travelers on Labor Day.
Even still, however, the airlines are losing money.
“Most of our traffic has been leisure customers, as business travel has yet to resume in any meaningful way, and that’s expected in this pandemic and in this recession, said Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines.
Kelly said the airline would need to double its current numbers just to break even for the year.
The Trump Administration’s $25 Billion government payroll support program has helped buy airlines more time, but for many, that time is running out.
American Airlines reports that come October 1, it will be down 40,000 employees from where it was at just before the pandemic — a decline of nearly 30-percent.
To help bridge the gap, many airlines are having to cut the number of flights being offered. Which for travelers, means fewer options and higher fares.
So, if you are planning to do any traveling by air this upcoming holiday season, you will want to start looking at tickets much earlier than you have in years past.