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After the pandemic, people began traveling again and they haven’t stopped. This is good news for airlines and hotels, but may cause some hiccups for vacationers (especially since many will be families or more junior travelers who are green when it comes to navigating airports). A labor shortage will also come into the mix with key airports being understaffed (the FAA warns that shortage of air traffic controllers could cause delays at New York’s three major airports this summer. Air traffic control facilities are only 54% staffed).
The number of travelers is set to exceed 2019 levels with 158 million Americans flying for Spring Break (that works out to 2.6 million a day) according to industry estimates. The Hopper app is reporting that airfare is up 4% versus 2019 and that Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Miami are the top choices for Spring Breakers. Miami is seeing a 20% jump in passenger traffic and recommending that passengers arrive at least three hours before their flights.
The City of Chicago expects more than 2.56 million passengers to O’Hare and Midway International Airports between March 31st and April 10th. Compared to the same travel period last year, O’Hare is expecting a 6.7% passenger increase while Midway projects 19.1% more passengers compared to Spring Break 2022.
International travel is also booming. AAA reports that trips out of the country are up 30% over 2022. This trend has held all year. The number of passengers heading abroad was up 75% in January 2023 compared with January 2022 and up 8% compared with January 2019, according to data from the International Trade Administration. Travel to Asia is also growing at an incredible rate with a 380% increase between January 2022 and January 2023.
All of this demand doesn’t seem to be easing up either. Jan Freitag, national director of hospitality market analytics at CoStar Group, said that TSA data shows continued recovery from both business and leisure travelers.
Spring break travelers buoyed the results for the March weeks, setting the travel industry up nicely for continuing gains during the summer months,” he said.
Summer travel should be another wild ride with sky-high prices, staffing shortages, and hopes that tech issues that grounded flights in the past are fixed. Passengers are still booking revenge trips after being stuck home and all signs point that this will continue even with fears of economic trouble on the horizon.
Anthony’s Take: It’s great to see the travel industry recovering and surging. The only downsides are the crowds, staffing issues, and travel providers who feel they can provide less when the numbers are in the black. We’ll see what happens this fall, but for now it looks like airports and tourist sites will be packed this spring and summer.
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