Flights within the United States are rapidly approaching pre-pandemic levels as restrictions ease, the Hill reported.
Flight bookings in June jumped to $6 billion, 17% more since May and was only 5% lower than June 2019, according to analysis from Adobe Digital Insights.
“Pent-up demand is materializing, with consumers eager to get back into an activity that was not possible during the pandemic,” said Vivek Pandya, a lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.
Airlines have struggled to accommodate the influx of travelers. Many let go of hundreds of employees and dramatically scaled back their operations at the beginning of the pandemic, and are now scrambling to hire more staff and pilots. Hundreds of flights had to be canceled and thousands were delayed throughout the United States in June and July because of staff shortages.
American Airlines announced it would hire 450 more pilots over the next two years to accommodate the demand.
The federal government gave airlines a total of $54 billion in aid to cover payroll expenses on the condition they did not fire or furlough workers. However, the airlines were free to encourage tens of thousands of employees to consider buyouts, early retirement or leaves of absence.
Additionally, some of the pent-up demand for travel has included pent-up frustrations. Mask mandates on flights have led to delays, outbursts, and even confrontations between passengers, other passengers and staff.