International travelers return to airports, industry still trying to recoup pandemic losses

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 9:34 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Americans are heading back to airports, and as international travel re-opens, there is a better idea of the impact to the airline industry during the pandemic.

The drop in international travel last year resulted in an estimated $1.3 trillion loss in global revenue, according to the New York Times. That is 11 times the loss that occurred during the economic crisis in 2009.

Those losses have been seen across the United States, and Lincoln travel agency, Executive Travel, said that during the pandemic they lost about 90 percent of their business. Fast forward to today, and they’re at about 50 percent of business from pre-pandemic levels.

Founder of Executive Travel, Steve Glenn, said part of that resurgence can be attributed to vacation travelers that were lost during the pandemic.

“The vacation traveler is leading the way and they’re literally bringing us back fast and furious. Vacation travelers are filling up 90 percent of the planes this summer. So the airlines are having profits starting this month, back to profitability so that’s good news so we can have flights in the future,” said Glenn.

Executive Travel said the vacation hotspots for Nebraska’s travelers are Mexico, Greece and Italy. They said that Nebraskans are ready to get back on flights and return to traveling outside the country.

Glenn said they expect business to return to about two thirds of pre-pandemic levels. The biggest changes have been centered around vaccinations, as countries have begun requiring them before arrival.

Business travel is also a big factor, as employees return to offices. Executive Travel says this will have a huge impact on traveling internationally.

“Then business travel will pick up, that will start in the fall and winter. We’re also seeing conventions and meetings starting late fall into the winter that will make a huge difference for business travelers because there’s a reason to travel then,” said Glenn.

Executive Travel does believe it will take another decade before companies can recoup all losses over the last 18 months.

One of the biggest points of emphasis from Glenn, he predicted the next four to six months will be the last opportunities to travel without as many tourists and at cheaper prices.

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