Good morning from Skift. It's Thursday, February 24, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses who may lead the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the launch of the Skift Travel Health Index, and the football fans traveling from Latin America to the World Cup.
Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Research has just released its Skift Travel Health Index, formerly the Skift Recovery Index, for January 2022 that details the depth of the industry’s rebound. Despite increased rates in several sectors of travel, bookings are still lagging below pre-Covid levels, writes Senior Research Analyst Wouter Geerts.
The Index revealed that searches for global hotel stays last month only hit 31 percent of January 2019 levels while new bookings made in January for future travel were roughly half of the number recorded the same month three years ago. However, average daily room rates were higher last month for 18 of the 22 countries analyzed, including the U.S., compared to January 2019.
Skift Research has rebranded the Index, which it launched in 2020, as the Skift Travel Health Index to reflect important changes — such as the inclusion of more information, additional data partners and a new data dashboard — in the monthly report tracking the health of the travel industry beyond the impact of Covid.
We turn now to a crucial decision facing the Federal Aviation Administration. Who will the agency hire to replace the departing Steve Dickson as its administrator? One of the possibilities, Contributor Ted Reed writes, is a United Airlines pilot.
Dickson announced his resignation last week following two and a half years as administrator that saw him, among other things, grapple with the damage Covid has inflicted on the aviation industry and problems caused by the large numbers of unruly passengers aboard planes.
While industry insiders have mentioned several names as possible replacements for Dickson, Reed writes one name to pay attention to is United pilot John Boccieri. One prominent industry executive has strongly recommended Boccieri, who once represented Ohio in Congress and currently serves the vice commander of the Pittsburgh U.S. Air Reserve base, for the post, describing him as someone very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of government and safety issues.
Finally, tickets for soccer’s World Cup later this year in Qatar went on sale recently and millions of fans worldwide have wasted little time in making plans to attend the planet’s most popular sporting event. Football fanatics in several Latin American nations have been among the most enthusiastic about attending matches despite the considerable expense it will take for many to travel to Qatar, writes Contributor Paula Krizanovic.
More than 17 million tickets were requested during the first 20 days of sales, and while Qatar came in first among countries with the most applicants, Argentina and Brazil immediately followed. Meanwhile, travel executives in Mexico and Brazil said they’ve seen a substantial increase in flight searches during the first two months of 2022 to Qatar compared to the same period last year.
But although several South American airlines fly from the region to Doha, steep airfares and lousy exchange rates will make seeing stars like Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar in person difficult for many fans considering the average monthly incomes in those countries. A roundtrip flight between Buenos Aires and Doha in November currently costs more than $5,000 while fares from São Paulo to the Qatari capital the same month are roughly $3,000.