- The Dallas-based carrier has been growing like a weed throughout the pandemic, and that trend continues with Thursday’s announcement of two new destinations, as well as a slew of new and returning routes.
- Southwest has added more dots to its route map during the pandemic than any other U.S. carrier.
- As travel recovers, Southwest is gearing up to return to every international market that it temporarily stopped serving during to the pandemic. Though some previously flown routes are not currently slated to return, all international stations will reopen by Nov. 7, the airline said.
- In addition to the resumptions, Southwest is also adding five new international routes.
- Southwest isn’t just bringing the love to its new cities or international outstations. The carrier’s domestic network is also getting a boost.
- Spirit is the USA’s fastest-growing airline in the third quarter (July-September) of this year. Flights are up by 12% over the same quarter in 2019, strongly helped by flights from Fort Lauderdale – already its number-one airport – growing by 40%
- Spirit has exceeded its pre-coronavirus level of flights. In the third quarter (Q3) of this year, it has almost 68,000 flights planned, based on analyzing data from Cirium, the aviation data company. This is up by 12% over the same period in pre-coronavirus 2019.
- The ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) has added more flights in this period (over 7,000) than any other US airline
- Spirit has 315 routes this quarter, up from 283 in 2019. Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta is the leading route if measured by total flights, as follows, up from third two years ago. It has replaced Las Vegas-Oakland for the top spot. Now, Fort Lauderdale-Atlanta has 963 flights, equating to around five daily non-stops each way.
- Rebooked holiday trips, postponed family reunions, meeting newborn kids, weddings, attending memorial services for loved ones are the new norm– All that pent-up travel demand is expected to trigger a 30% surge in jet fuel demand during the summer compared to first quarter levels.
- Yet, jet fuel remains one of the biggest weak links in the bullish oil thesis, with a full recovery of aviation fuel demand to pre-pandemic levels not expected to arrive until 2023.
- “You see the passenger numbers are recovering, but they are flying shorter distances, so the relationship between the passenger number and the jet fuel demand is distorted. For the full recovery, we need international travel to recover as well, and for that we have to reach a certain level of vaccination, not just in a couple of countries,” Cuneyt Kazokoglu, head of oil demand analysis at FGE, has told Reuters.
- Despite the ongoing buzz, there is a huge disparity in flight bookings, with many countries with successful vaccine programs remaining reluctant to allow unlimited travel.
- Another worrying signal: Lagging jet fuel margins. Although the average price of a gallon of jet fuel has increased 80% since a year ago to $1.79, a lack of “higher-quality traffic,” is leading to lower overall margins and a slower recovery for the industry due to low fares.
- The airline industry’s recovery from the pandemic passed a milestone as more than 2 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday for the first time since early March 2020.
- Friday’s crowds were only 74% of the volume compared to the same day in 2019. However, the 2.03 million figure was 1.5 million more travelers than the same day last year, according to the TSA.
- The 2-million mark represents quite a turnaround for the travel industry, which was hammered by the pandemic. There were days in April 2020 when fewer than 100,000 people boarded planes in the U.S., and the CEO of Boeing predicted that at least one major U.S. airline would go bankrupt.
- The fear of large-scale furloughs has lifted. United Airlines, which lost $7 billion and threatened to furlough 13,000 workers last fall, told employees this week that their jobs are secure even when the federal money runs out in October.
- Hotel operators say they too have seen bookings improve as vaccination rates rise.
Prior to the pandemic, TSA screened on average 2 million to 2.5 million travelers per day.