(New York) American airlines are seeing passengers return to their planes in the US, and they don’t seem overly concerned about the delta variant, they are starting to hire and buy planes again to meet demand.
Air traffic has yet to fully return to pre-pandemic levels, with the number of passengers screened by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) remaining between 15% and 25% lower than in 2019.
But the airports are again buzzing with activity, and sales of the largest US companies are up in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2020: it doubled by 5 in America and Delta, and 4 in United and Southwest.
Backed by government aid, their finances are improving, with Delta, American, and Southwest reporting net profits during the period.
And all of their bosses were upbeat despite the skyrocketing delta variable in the world and its potential impact on the economy, with the chiefs of Southwest, Delta and United saying its appearance had no effect on their bookings.
“We may see a temporary slowdown in reopening the economy, but looking at the data and science on vaccines, the likelihood seems very slim,” United Director Scott Kirby said on Wednesday.
All airline executives have confirmed over the past few months that the situation is improving. The difference this time is that they are showing a willingness to invest,” said Peter McNally of Third Bridge.
“For twelve to fifteen months, it was just about raising capital and maintaining cash; now they buy and lease planes.
United announced at the end of June its intention to purchase 270 aircraft, the largest order in its history.
In addition to recalling more than 3,000 people, America has hired nearly 3,500 new employees since the start of the year and plans to hire 350 pilots this year and 1,000 pilots in 2022.
Apparently, American tourists are back in the cabins.
Business travel is also gradually resuming, faster than companies expected.
That particularly profitable segment was 22% of what it was in 2019 in the first quarter, and is now 44%, American Airlines President Doug Parker noted on CNBC Thursday.
After the school year begins in the fall and with international routes reopening, the company expects a full recovery in 2022.
McNally says Zoom meetings “won’t make business trips go away.”
Nonessential trips like the CEO’s one-way trip to Europe just for lunch will probably not be accepted. But the rest of the business trips will resume, especially with the revitalization of the economy.”
The unknowns remain on international travel, particularly when tourist arrivals in the United States are severely limited by the Biden administration.
“Every time (in a country) restrictions are lifted, we see a rapid and dramatic increase in bookings, which shows that there is significant pent-up demand for international travel,” Robert Isom, director of international travel, said Thursday. . ‘American Airlines.’
Shortage of pilots?
In the face of renewed activity, like many other sectors of the economy, companies sometimes face staff shortages.
“At some airports, we’ve had a staff shortage,” Gary Kelly, president of CNBC’s Southwest admitted Thursday.
“Fewer people are responding to job ads,” he said, stressing, however, that the situation was right on the part of the pilots and flight attendants.
But for Peter McNally, the pilot’s problem seems to point to his nose.
“All companies are trying to hire more or bring back those on availability,” he explains.
But many have recently retired, either because of their age or because of the financial incentives offered last year when companies were looking to save money.
At the same time, the recruitment of pilots trained during their military service decreased, he asserts: in order to keep them, the army raised their salaries, and also increasingly resorted to drones.