Airline ticket sales fell slightly in May after rising steadily over the first four months of the year, according to a company that tracks bookings, suggesting that summer travel ticket demand may not be quite as strong as it is the airlines had hoped for.
According to analysis based on the Adobe Digital Economy Index, consumers spent more than $ 5 billion on flights within the United States in May, down 4 percent from April and 20 percent less than the same month in 2019. The Estimates are based on website tracking data from six of the top 10 US airlines. The airlines sold more than $ 21 billion in domestic tickets from January through May.
It’s not clear why bookings were lower in May and whether the trend continued into June. However, analysts and airlines have been optimistic in recent weeks that the demand for travel is strong. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the number of passengers has risen relatively steadily since January. On Sunday, the TSA screened 2.1 million passengers at airport checkpoints, most in a single day since the pandemic began.
Other countries are also opening up increasingly. United Airlines said it had set booking records for flights across the Atlantic for the past three weeks, and the European Union on Friday urged its member states to lift a ban on non-essential travel for Americans.
People are also buying more tickets for later in the year than this time in 2019, the year before the pandemic broke out. Bookings for trips in November and December are up 30 percent compared to sales at that point in 2019.
In a security filing earlier this month, American Airlines said strong summer sales helped generate a cash profit for the first time in more than a year in May. Delta Air Lines announced that recreational traffic within the United States will be fully restored this month.
Some of the most popular destinations this summer are in Hawaii, according to Adobe. Other popular stops are Bozeman, Mont., Nantucket, Mass., Las Vegas, Richmond, Virginia, and Orlando and Fort Myers, Florida.
Most airline analysts and executives expect a full recovery to take years – airport traffic is still about 20 percent lower than in 2019 – but hotels are doing much better. According to the index, which is based on data from eight of the top 10 US hotel chains, slightly more people booked hotel rooms in April and May than in the same months of 2019.
People also spend more on travel-related goods. For example, luggage sales in May rose 9 percent from the same month in 2019 and sales of camping equipment increased 130 percent.