In previous years, as summer begins to fade and the calendar turns to September, we would expect rather predictable travel behavior. Vacation travel drops significantly, as an uptick in business travel begins. This year, not so much. While the recovery from Covid is real, the Delta Variant has caused what many believe to be a short- term bit of turbulence before we hit smooth skies again.
1. Airline Vaccination Updates. Hawaiian Airlines is the latest carrier to require employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, while still, other airlines are split on what action to take. United Airlines is the only major carrier in the U.S. to mandate employee vaccination at this time. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines are taking moves to increase employee vaccinations, but at this point there is no requirement. Delta, in fact, has taken the very bold move of increasing monthly insurance premiums of un-vaccinated employees by $200.00. [USA Today] [CNBC]
2. Global Air Capacity Still Rising but Not Yet at 2019 Levels. When comparing 2021 global air capacity to both 2020 and 2019, a clear trend has developed. 2021 available global seats are now ahead of the same time in 2020, but not close to 2019 levels. A look at September confirms this trend. In September of 2021, there are roughly 360M available global seats. In 2020, the September schedule had just over 200M available seats, while the September 2019 schedule was over 480M seats. Progress for sure, but more work to be done. [OAG]
3. Hyatt Acquires Apple Leisure Group. Hyatt recently announced the acquisition of Apple Leisure Group (ALG) for $2.7B. The deal adds 102 AMResorts properties into the Hyatt portfolio. Hyatt’s European footprint will increase by 60%, and their global presence in the luxury all-inclusive market will double. Hyatt clearly sees that leisure travel is leading the recovery from Covid and this move reinforces their market position. [Hyatt]
4. American Airlines Set to Reopen Premium Flagship Lounges. Lounges will start reopening in September. This is welcome news to road weary travelers, as customers can wine, dine, and retreat during travel. As customers return to the lounges, they will experience new menus from James Beard Foundation chefs, more ways to access the lounges and recognizable touches from the inflight experience. [American Airlines]
5. United Increases Customer Access to Covid Testing Locations. Customers can access more than 3,000 new Walmart and Albertson Companies locations across the U.S., through the airline’s website and mobile app in the Travel Ready Center. Customers can book Covid-19 testing appointments at more than 3,800 total testing providers powered by Accenture technology and CLX Health’s TrustAssure network. Additionally, testing results can be delivered within 4 to 48 hours and can be submitted directly to United’s website and mobile app to be reviewed for their flight. [United Airlines]
6. Delta Continues Fleet Renewal. Delta’s new agreement with Airbus adds 30 state-of-the art A321 neo aircraft to its order book. This move aligns with Delta’s accelerated fleet renewal and simplification plans and elevates the customer experience as projected demand for travel grows in the years ahead. The acquisition also supports Delta’s carbon neutrality commitment by replacing less fuel-efficient aircraft as part of its Flight to Net-Zero. [Delta]
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