While we know that passenger numbers in the US are increasing every week, an American Airlines executive just painted a very optimistic picture of how demand is recovering.
American Airlines is seeing increasing demand
American Airlines Chief Information Officer Maya Leibman has sent a memo to some employees to tell them about the “real boom in business” the airline is seeing right now (thanks @xJonNYC to mark this). Amongst other things:
- Bookings through aa.com and the American Airlines app last week increased 150-400% year over year and within a few points by 2019. Bookings last weekend were even higher than the same weekend in 2019
- The past seven days have been America’s busiest days since the pandemic began
- American had almost 80% occupancy on domestic flights last week
- As of May, American Airlines plans to fly all planes and there will be no more planes on the ground
She continues with the following optimistic outlook:
“These are statistics that we haven’t seen in a year. And all I hear from my friends and family is their travel plans for this summer – probably you too. It feels like there’s this incredible pent-up demand to go somewhere!
Sure, the returns are not where we want them to be and we still have a long way to go, but there is no doubt that the train is leaving the station (the plane is leaving the hangar – literally!) .
Spring has definitely begun – you can hear it on the birds outside your window as well as on the aircraft engines speeding down the runway. “
American will take all aircraft out of storage by May
All American planes will fly by May
The most important and specific update here is that American Airlines will put all aircraft back into service by May, which means that the aircraft still in storage will be back in the air for the next few weeks.
Now, of course, it must be remembered that the Americans will be significantly smaller than before, even if all aircraft are put back into service. That’s because American Airlines decided to retire a total of five types of aircraft, including the following:
American has discontinued its entire Boeing 767 fleet
As you can see, these failures were mostly focused on long-haul aircraft, which means the Americans’ long-haul fleet will consist entirely of 777 and 787 in the future (until the airline does not ship A321XLR until 2023 at the earliest).
American has ordered 50 Airbus A321XLRs
I’m picking up the rise in demand
I have two different thoughts about the surge in demand here. First, while the surge in demand sounds encouraging, the airline still has many challenges ahead of it:
- The fact that last weekend bookings were stronger than the same weekend bookings in 2019 sounds amazing, but it probably reflects the change in consumer booking patterns, including the fact that people otherwise didn’t book much in advance
- Demand is predominantly leisure and business demand is far from recovering
- As a result, current traffic is also generally low-income, although I think tariffs will continue to rise in the coming weeks and months
- After American eliminated change fees, I wonder if the way people book tickets has changed
In addition, to me, these statistics reflect very much what we already knew – people book short term trips whether they are vaccinated or not. With the current US vaccination schedule, most Americans could be fully vaccinated by July (based on access to a vaccine in May, and then take up to six weeks to develop immunity), but I understand a lot The increase is in demand for travel earlier than that.
The US airports will be full this summer
It’s going to be a busy but untraditional summer for US airlines. People really want to travel, and future bookings will at least reflect that with American Airlines. Americans plan to have their entire fleet back in service by May, even though it’s smaller than it was before the pandemic.
However, with travel restrictions still in place and demand for business travel limited, the route network will look very different from previous years.
Are you surprised at the recovery in demand Americans are seeing?