- The restrictions prohibited most visitors from the EU, U.K., South Africa, India, Brazil and China from flying into the U.S.
- The reopening of the border to many international visitors comes with a new set of rules, such as vaccination requirements.
- Airlines have reported a jump in bookings to the U.S. and expect an immediate surge in travelers, even before peak holiday periods.
- Under the new rules, inbound non-citizens will have to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before they fly into the U.S. That means the second of a two-dose vaccine must have been completed two weeks prior to departure. Documentation can be shown as a paper certificate, a photo of the document or a digitized version. It will be reviewed by airline personnel.
- The U.S. will also require proof of a negative Covid test from within the past three days for all vaccinated travelers. The country has required that since January for all arrivals, including U.S. citizens.
- The U.S. has outlined a number of exemptions to the new rules. Those include international travelers under the age of 18, as some countries haven’t yet authorized vaccines for children or have low vaccine availability.
- U.S. citizens are not required to present proof of vaccination before departure. However, if they do not, they will have to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within one day, instead of three days for travelers with a Covid vaccination record.
- All U.S.-bound travelers will be required to provide contact information such as e-mail, phone number and address to airlines in the case of an outbreak following arrival.
- American Airlines canceled more than 1,900 flights last weekend, the latest in a troubling trend of airline network collapses in recent months.
- The airline blamed the cancelations on gusty winds out of its Dallas-Fort Worth hub for starting the episode, saying the weather event forced the airport to slow arrival rates and limit the use of some runways. Coming at the very end of October, that left flight crews bumping up against the maximum hours that they’re allowed or required to work in a given time period.
- Earlier in October, Southwest suffered a similar episode, when a confluence of factors led it to cancel nearly 2,000 flights after a brief period of bad weather in Florida.
- The common thread with all of the cancelations has been short-staffing.
- As travel demand has rebounded from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have been forced to decide how to balance the surge in travel interest with reduced staffing due — caused in large part by early retirements, buyouts, and voluntary leaves of absence taken at the start of the crisis.
- Although carriers have tried to hire new staff and recall those on leave, the current tight labor market has complicated the effort.
- The prevalence of these issues has led to consumer worries over air travel during the upcoming holiday travel season, when demand is expected to be a pandemic-era high.
- Spirit and Southwest have pointed to plans to slow growth and ensure adequate staffing levels over the holidays, while American pointed to plans already in the works to improve staffing — including the recall of more than 1,800 flight attendants from pandemic leaves, along with plans to hire 600 new cabin crew members by the end of the year.
- On Wednesday, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby sent a remarkable email to some customers, taking a not-so-subtle dig at American and Southwest. “I’ve heard from many of you in the past few weeks and I know you’re eager to return to travel — especially around the holidays,” Kirby wrote. “Many of you have asked if you can book with confidence on United this holiday season. And the short answer is, yes you can!”
- Bozeman, Montana. Hilton Head, South Carolina. Sarasota, Florida.
They’re among America’s hottest aviation markets in 2021, underscoring how much the pandemic has jolted airline route maps.
- Bozeman, which sits near Yellowstone National Park and other outdoor recreation areas. Traffic to the Montana airport has surged this year, with 1.46 million passengers flying through the airport through Oct. 31, 2021. That’s far ahead of the airport’s pre-pandemic pace, with the passenger count soaring 55% over the same period in 2019, according to data from OAG, a U.K.-based air travel intelligence company.
- It’s been a similar story for dozens of other lesser-known airports, such as Hilton Head – where the passenger traffic at the Atlantic Coast resort is up a whopping 81.5% in 2021 as compared to 2019. In Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the jump is even bigger in 2021 – up 94% from 2019.
- We’ve already told you airports near recreation hot spots fared well in 2021. Expect that trend to continue into 2022, though a reopening Europe could prove to be a renewed draw for adventurous Americans ready to return to international travel.
- If the recovery holds, don’t be surprised if more transatlantic routes get added to the 2022 schedule — maybe even more to some secondary destinations that historically haven’t had easy connections from the U.S.
- No single airline has grown its route map during the pandemic faster than Southwest Airlines. The carrier has taken an aggressive posture, using other airlines’ cutbacks as an opportunity to muscle into new markets.
- Airlines are poised for their busiest year of pilot hiring in more than three decades as the industry tries to restock a workforce reduced during the pandemic and strained by a quick rebound in travel.
- Travelers returned in force this year, and the boom is expected to continue as international borders reopen and corporations send workers back out on the road. After seeking to conserve cash by urging thousands of pilots to retire early, airlines are now on an unparalleled hiring spree.
- Major U.S. carriers are on track to hire around 4,200 pilots this year and more than 9,000 next year according to FAPA.aero, a Nevada-based career and financial adviser for professional pilots. That would be the busiest year for pilot hiring in more than three decades, according to FAPA’s figures. In 2019, when airlines were hiring at a rapid clip, major U.S. carriers hired about 5,000 pilots.
- Regional airlines, where many pilots start their careers, are also on the prowl, competing to offer rich bonuses to lure new recruits.
- Airlines have been plagued by staffing snarls as they have emerged from their pandemic-induced pullback. Workers from baggage handlers to fuel-truck drivers have been hard to find. Retraining pilots who were out on leave or had to switch to new aircraft types has created logjams. While those shortfalls have contributed to dayslong disruptions that have upended thousands of flights, airlines say such problems are likely to be short-lived.
- Worries about finding the next generation of pilots have dogged the industry for years. The flow from the military—long a source for commercial airlines—has slowed. A 2013 federal rule mandating that aspiring pilots fly 1,500 hours before being hired at a regional carrier added years and tens of thousands of dollars of upfront costs. Major airlines have formed partnerships with flight schools and universities in an effort to ensure a steady pipeline of candidates.
- Pilots are also getting older, with a greater share approaching the mandatory retirement age of 65. A long-anticipated wave of exits accelerated during the pandemic as airlines offered buyouts and retirement packages to conserve cash. At the four largest U.S. carriers, more than 4,400 pilots opted to depart last year.
- Now major carriers are pulling pilots up from regional affiliates to backfill, and those smaller carriers are trying to catch up again after a yearlong pause in hiring, said Geoff Murray, a partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
- American Airlines executives said last month that they haven’t been able to rely as heavily on some regional airlines because of pilot shortfalls that have constrained the smaller carriers’ ability to fly their schedules.