Airline industry remains 'volatile' as flight bookings drop in August

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The delta variant of the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the airline industry's path to recovery, with domestic flight bookings declining 24% in August, according to new data. 

Consumers spent a total of $4 billion on domestic flights in August, down from the $5.26 billion spent in July and the $6 billion in June, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, which has been tracking the variant's impact on travel. 

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Additionally, Thanksgiving travel bookings in August – which is typically when a surge of consumers book holiday travel plans – were also down, about 18%, compared to pre-pandemic times. Comparatively, in 2019, 22% of Thanksgiving tickets had been booked by August.  

Woman waiting in the airport. (iSt / iStock)

Overall, figures from July and August "showed the path to recovery had all been derailed" and that "the landscape continues to be volatile," according to Adobe. 

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"When we began tracking the airline recovery in 2021, we had expected July to be the tipping point," Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst Vivek Pandya, said. "We’d seen a June rebound, where $6 billion in domestic flight bookings were just 5 percent below 2019 levels. But, as with other parts of the digital economy, outcomes will be largely shaped by the course of the pandemic."   

Depressed bookings remained consistent throughout the first half of September as the delta variant continued to take hold of the country. 

During the first 10 days of the month, consumers spent $1.5 billion on flights, down 39% compared to pre-pandemic times.    

DELTA VARIANT DAMPENS AIRLINE INDUSTRY'S PATH TO RECOVERY, ADOBE SAYS

As a result flight prices began to fall again. In August, prices were down 11% compared to 2019 levels, according to Adobe. 

Prior to August, prices were reaching 2019 levels. In July, prices were at 2019 levels while June prices were 1% lower. In May, prices were 8% lower than 2019 levels. Prices were significantly lower earlier this year, down 28% in January. 

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