Demand for passenger air transport remains dynamic across the Atlantic. United raised its operating revenue forecast for the third quarter, now expected to be up 12% (from 11% previously) over 2019, before the pandemic hit air traffic, according to a stock market filing. In view of the reservations for September, “it looks like the summer has not stopped”, explained Patrick Quayle, responsible for organizing flights for the company, during a conference organized by the firm Cowen.
“The children have returned to school. But the demand for our flights (to Mexico, the Caribbean or Europe) is the same as during the summer,” he added, pointing out that this is unusual. Business class is still a little behind: the number of passengers in this particularly lucrative segment for companies remains below the level of 2019. But it should go up since “people are asked to come back to the office”, continued Patrick Quayle.
Business travel driven by SMEs
For its part, American Airlines maintains for the moment its forecasts in terms of turnover, expenses and margins. “This is good news,” said general manager Robert Isom. Like at United, bookings for leisure travel “remain strong” after the last big long weekend of the summer, he said.
On the side of travel paid by companies in the United States, the turnover returned to the level of 2019, but “it is mainly driven by small and medium-sized companies”, noted Robert Isom. Revenues generated by large companies such as banks, consulting or auditing firms are only 75% of their 2019 level.