We see a similar picture to the US numbers. The pandemic dramatically cut the number of planes flying, with April 2020’s levels down 98% compared to the year before. Here, again, numbers rose quickly afterwards but, unlike in the US, this didn’t last.
Now as we come to the end of July 2021, flight levels are nowhere near their pre-pandemic numbers, although they are up 40% compared to 2020 for the 1 – 18 July period. Why is the UK airline industry lagging behind?
After 2020’s summer in which cases were relatively low and restrictions relatively few, the UK went into a second national lockdown at the start of November as infections rose sharply. A third lockdown followed in December.
These successive lockdowns, which included lots of stringent travel restrictions, curtailed the recovery of the UK airline industry. But this may not be the only reason. The differing usage of domestic flights between the UK and the US is also key.
In the US domestic flights are far more common, making up 77% of all flights in 2019. In the UK, domestic flights made up just 14% in the same year. This is no surprise considering the size of the UK makes driving or taking a train to cross the country the preferable option in most cases.
With domestic travel facing less restrictions in the US during the pandemic, and plenty of people still needing to travel around their country internally, this helps explain why the US industry is bouncing back quicker.
Simply put, domestic flights are saving the US airline industry. For now.
It’s important to point out that the summer months are when flights are at their peak, which means we can expect a seasonal downturn before long. The going might be good right now (for US airlines at least), but there are many long fall and winter months ahead.
What should we cover next?
Is there a topic, trend, or industry you’d like us to feature in the Brandwatch Bulletin? We want to hear your ideas to make sure our readers are getting what they want. We may even ask to interview you if you’re involved with the topic.
Send any and all ideas to [email protected] and let’s talk.
Thanks for reading
That’s it for today, but we’ll be back on Monday. If you were forwarded this email and want in on the action, get subscribed to the Brandwatch Bulletin now.
The Brandwatch React team