American Airlines Group Inc. announced that it is preparing to operate a nearly normal schedule as Covid-19 vaccines are being available to millions of Americans across the nation. As a result, restriction on businesses-restaurants, schools-universities and international travel have been lifted creating a perfect recipe for domestic and international travel.
American Airlines is one of several carriers that have been adding flights with the U.S. and nearby destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean, seizing on signs of rising demand as people have started booking trips again. The Company said it would fly 150 new routes this summer and is now expecting to offer more than 90% of its pre-pandemic seating capacity within the U.S. and 80% of its international seating capacity.
The summer months, the airlines flights are at its highest peak, but the coronavirus cases have been on the rise in some areas and more infectious variants are spreading. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still advises against travel, it announced earlier this month that it was a low-risk activity for people who have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is fueling up more vaccines to be distributed, American Airlines is gearing up to meet the rising travel demand which they have seen in the past few weeks and believe that demands will continue to rise as more people are vaccinated despite of rising coronavirus cases being reported.
Other airlines have also said they are seeing an increase in fuller flights and rising numbers of future bookings and have been rapidly filling out their trajectory [routes] for the summer. Discount airline Allegiant Travel Company said last week its average daily bookings in March were higher than i March 2019. Frontier Airlines, another low-far carrier announced on Tuesday it is adding eight new routes and plans to add services to Alaska. United Airlines Holdings Inc., announced plans for more than two dozen new routes starting Memorial Day and recently told to pilots in a town hall that over 40% of its flights from O’Hare International Airport are 90% full, a tremendous change form last spring when planes were flying nearly empty.
American Airlines is adding weekly nonstop flight to Orlando Florida, and from eight cities including Dayton, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama. Brian Znotins, American’s Vice president said that he is having to add more and more capacity of people because the bookings are continuing to come in and people are making plans further in advance including the fall–a shift in behavioral trend from a year ago when people were reluctant to make travel plans particularly not more than a few weeks out as local restrictions and coronavirus case numbers suddenly could change.
There are still risks that could derail airline travel as coronavirus cases are starting to rise in some states fueled in part by younger unvaccinated and more transmissible variants of the coronavirus according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky who has recommended that Michigan resume stricter lockdown measures.
Addling to the yearlong debate of whether it is safe to fly during the pandemic, the CDC published a study concluding that the risk of exposure to Covid-19 is reduced by between 23% and 57% when airlines keep middle seats empty which has largely when phased out. The CDC’s study conducted by the researchers of Kansas State University didn’t draw conclusion about the risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 while in flight and neither did it investigate how the use of masks might affect the risks level.