Massive summer travel demand drives skyrocketing costs

 Massive summer travel demand drives skyrocketing costs

(The Hill) – Most Americans are excited to travel this summer, but rising costs could boost their vacation plans.

Plane fares rose nearly 19 percent from March to April, according to the latest Labor Department data, the largest month-on-month increase for plane tickets recorded, and an increase in 33 percent from last year. Hotel and vacation rental prices are also rising, leaving travelers with few options to save money.

Price increases are driven by much demand for summer travel. Approximately 90 percent of U.S. travelers plan to travel in the next six months, and 35 percent expect to travel more this summer than last year, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.

“Prices have little impact on Americans’ summer travel plans, even if some travelers take smaller or shorter trips or adjust their travel budgets, ”he said. by Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of the travel group’s public affairs and policy.

The global travel and hospitality industry is shedding millions of jobs at the height of the pandemic while travel is slow to crawl. With the large number of Americans traveling for the first time since the pandemic began this summer, planes and hotels often lack the capacity to meet demand, driving prices higher.

Airline executives predict that U.S. airports will process 3 million passengers a day for the first time this summer. Airfare has risen in recent months as summer flights have sold out quickly.

The high cost may be pricey for some Americans. The number of domestic flight bookings dropped 17 percent from March to April, according to data from Adobe Digital Insights. However, bookings last month were 5 percent higher than the same period in 2019.

“An uncertain economic environment is pushing some consumers to reorient their travel plans,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a note. “We’re seeing signs though, that some are choosing to need their travel plans rather than cancel them right away. While reservations for Memorial Day aren’t, summer travel is above pre-pandemic levels.

Travel company Hopper predicts plane fares will rise 6 to 12 percent before going up in June.

Hannah Walden, communications managers at Airlines for America, an industry trading group, noted that April prices were 13 percent lower than the same month in 2019, before COVID-19 shipped the plane fare.

Record -breaking fuel costs, fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that raised world oil prices, were targeted by fares. Jet fuel prices rose 151 percent last year and rose 8 percent last month, according to data from S&P Global.

Travelers have fewer seats to choose from than they did in the years leading up to the pandemic. Major airlines are reducing their spring and summer schedules to mitigate the impact of higher fuel costs and avoid reversing the high-profile delays and cancellations that leave travelers already. -stranded last year.

For the second quarter, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines cut their total number of seats by 14 percent and nearly 17 percent, respectively, compared to the same point in 2019, according to travel analytics platform Cirium .

The airlines say they don’t have enough pilots to extend their schedules. At the height of the pandemic, planes offered early retirement to pilots who could no longer return workers, despite receiving $ 54 billion in federal aid to keep workers paid, which executives said was insufficient. to cover all salaries of their employees.

“The pilot shortage for the industry is real, and most airlines never realize their capacity plans because there aren’t enough pilots, at least not in the next five years,” United’s CEO said. Scott Kirby. told investors last month.

Si Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) is preparing to reveal legislation that would raise the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots to at least two years. Under federal law, pilots must retire at age 65, an age limit raised by Congress from 60 in 2007.

Some in the airline industry are positioning change as a way to prevent the shortage from getting worse, but they recognize it won’t affect the capacity of planes this summer.

Red hot inflation is coming at other products and services that travelers rely on.

A Labor Department report last week found that hotel and motel prices have risen nearly 23 percent since April 2021. Rental prices for cars and trucks have soared more than 10 percent annually while global chip shortage continues to limit the supply of vehicles in the country.

Experts expect both numbers to rise further as summer reservations sell out. After the price hike late last month, average hotel rates per night in the U.S. rose 42 percent from the same period last year, according to Hopper.

Meanwhile, Airbnb’s average daily rate is 37 percent more expensive than the same point in 2019 and 5 percent from last year, the company’s chief finance officer, Dave Stephenson, told investors earlier of the month.

“We thought that [prices] likely to moderate throughout the back half of the year as the mix continues to adjust further into cities, more cross-border, with lower average daily rates, but price appreciation remains taller and more sticky, ”he said.

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