Airlines Bet on a Business Travel Rebound
Delta and Southwest Add Business Travel Flights
Delta (DAL) and Southwest (LUV) are among the airline operators gearing up for the return of business travelers this fall, despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases spurred on by the Delta variant of the virus. With consumer travel waning slightly, airlines are overhauling their routes to better accommodate business travelers in hopes they will finally return to the skies this fall.
Delta Air Lines is adding flights to New York, Boston, and other business hubs and reducing flights to popular vacation destinations. Southwest is also restoring some of its routes for business travelers and launching deals and discounts in September to keep vacation travel from declining.
Summer Vacation Travel Coming to an End Soon
Typically, vacation travel slows as summer comes to a close and business travel tends to pick up. Whether or not that trend plays out this year will be important for airline operators and their investors.
The airline industry relies on the corporate market for a large portion of their sales. Close to 2.24 million people went through security at US airports this past weekend—a new pandemic high. Airlines are hopeful that business travel will pick up when the summer vacation season ends. Despite the threat of the Delta variant, many industry leaders are optimistic this will happen. Airline operators say companies are beginning to spend on travel again, albeit slowly.
Delta Variant May Derail Plans
Though airlines are hopeful that corporate travel will tick up in the fall, the Delta variant of COVID-19 may hamper the rebound. Local governments and big companies are renewing mask requirements, even for vaccinated people.
These developments are leading some companies to rethink return-to-office plans. Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) are among the big companies delaying when workers are scheduled to go back to the office. Airlines are hopeful that business travel will recover in the fall, but it will depend on what unfolds with respect to the Delta variant.
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