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Is it time to get out and travel?

September 23, 2021

While the increase in travel is good news, vacation travel doesn’t provide the same revenue that business travel does.

Nathan Greer

By Nathan Greer, Solutions Engineer, Cirium

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has left its mark on the world and rocked the world of aviation, and by extension the wider travel industry.  Though airports may be crowded with travelers, those travelers are more likely to be carrying beach bags than briefcases.

We can visualize the dynamics in the below schedule change report. This table shows Alaska flights departing PDX from September to October.  Overall, Alaska has pulled six flights out of the schedule. But when you get into the market level, they’ve stopped servicing a number of markets from PDX: DCA (Washington DC National), JFK (New York JFK), and EWR (Newark NJ), entirely for October. This pattern of change is not unique to Alaska or Portland, but is something we are seeing across all markets. Airlines are paring back portions of their schedules as a result of the changing behavior of travelers.


After over a year of lock downs, Allianz Partners projected a record breaking year of spending on vacation travel.  This pent-up desire to travel has lead to a high demand for services, such as flight bookings, hotel stays and vacation rentals—which has out-paced supply.

Supply continues to be lower than pre-pandemic levels due to COVID-19 restrictions and worker shortages, which have resulted in slower throughput, fewer flights, capacity restrictions, or, attractions and venues remaining closed.

Nathan Greer, Solutions Engineer, Cirium

While the increase in travel is good news for the airlines and most hotels, the bread and butter come from business travel, which has been experiencing its own rollercoaster.  At the onset of the summer the trends were indicating a steady increase in business travel, but with the rapid spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 many companies have pulled back on the return to business travel.

We are still seeing some increases in business travel, albeit at a slower pace than previously seen. So, it’s not all bad news. 

Nathan Greer, Solutions Engineer, Cirium

When will we see travel return to pre-COVID levels?  That answer is, it’s anyone’s guess, but a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, is projecting that fourth quarter business travel is going to reach only 25-35% of 2019 levels, which is a significant increase of the 15% from 2020. 

The survey also revealed that that technology alternatives, such as Zoom or WebEx, in place of in person meetings are quite effective and can replace face to face meetings in some instances.

Many companies and travelers continue to approach travel cautiously, but it varies by region. European businesses are more likely to travel than their US counterparts based on a recent GBTA survey. 

We will see a return to travel to pre-COVID-19 levels, but it will take time. We do know that the travel landscape will look very different then than what we had before.


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