LONDON – At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit, the United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby gave some much-needed positive news regarding the state of the industry in the U.S.
Kirby believes that travel demand for domestic leisure travel has recovered back to the levels that it was at pre-pandemic. He did add however that demand in business is still down around 80%.
“Domestic leisure demand has almost entirely recovered. It tells you something about that pent-up desire to travel, the pent-up desire to remake those connections. Business demand is still down over 80%, and of course, international borders, particularly long-haul, are still closed. So those are a huge chunk of our business that are still almost at zero, but it’s really nice to see that recovery.”Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines – Quotes extracted from The Points Guy coverage – https://thepointsguy.com/news/airline-leisure-demand-is-back-chamber-summit/
This of course was something to be expected, particularly with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) saying in July 2020 that it expects domestic air travel to bounce back two years before business does, with a full industry-wide recovery of domestic travel expected by 2022 (Timperley, 2020).
United also mentioned around two to three weeks ago that it would be able to halt its cash burn caused by the pandemic in the month just gone, which is also positive financial news and will encourage now a positive trend amongst other airlines to potentially do the same (Reuters, 2021).
This statement by Kirby reflects on the good week that the airline has been having, particularly in the press, with the airline finally restarting operations out of New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport after just over a five-year hiatus, which “the current CEO called the carrier’s departure a mistake” (Josephs, 2021).
Going forward, the airline remains set in meeting sustainability goals to help the effects of climate change by pledging to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050” (Fox, 2021).
This does seem to be the case, especially with the airline’s foray into the electric aircraft market with Archer Aviation, of which United has ordered 200 units of the eVTOL aircraft (United, 2021).
Overall, United have been having quite a good spell of public relations over the last few weeks, and this of course may be helping the balance sheets, especially with the JFK re-launch, where it can begin to recoup losses on not being at that airport over the last five years.
If the airline continues to play its cards right, recovery may come sooner than they think.