Parts of the world may be facing new restrictions amid rising Covid-19 case numbers and the emergence of the Omicron variant, but the pent-up demand for air travel in the United States is unlikely to subside.
Were it not for the Omicron variant, domestic air traffic this holiday season would probably have approached 2019 volumes for the first time since the start of the pandemic. But even after the variant's emergence in the US, domestic airline capacity — a measure of seats available and the distance they'll fly — stands at 94% for the Christmas season, the highest level attained in 2021. That's based on our analysis of airline schedule data.
Some of the increased demand reflects recent availability of Covid vaccines for children ages 5 through 11, which makes it easier for families to travel, as well as the wider dissemination of booster shots for adults. Additionally, last month's lifting of US travel restrictions on vaccinated visitors from 33 nations, including many European countries, provided another boost, according to data from the International Air Transport Association.