Good morning from Skift. It's Tuesday, June 28 in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at the post-pandemic trouble airlines are having, what coronavirus recovery looks like in Asia, and the big planes Lufthansa are bringing back.
Although the airline industry is rapidly approaching pre-pandemic travel levels, it’s also having a brutal summer marked by, among other issues, flight cancellations, staffing shortages and overcrowding at airports, writes Airlines Reporter Edward Russell in his explainer on the root causes for all this. For anyone who has flown recently, it’s more often chaos than order.
Despite security screening numbers in the U.S. over the June 24 weekend being the highest since February 2020, Russell writes the return of travelers is proving more difficult than airline industry insiders thought it would be. Labor shortages are one factor forcing carriers to reduce their flight schedules, with the industry struggling to lure back workers who had taken jobs elsewhere after airlines cut their staffing levels early in the pandemic. Industry trade group Airlines for America estimates that 15 percent of planned summer flights in the U.S. have been cut from June through August.
In addition, European airports such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol and London’s Gatwick and Heathrow have implemented caps on the number of flights to avoid overcrowding, another reason airlines have reduced schedules.
Next, Asia has experienced a bumpy road in its ongoing quest for a full tourism rebound. But Booking.com executive Laura Houldsworth is confident about the region making progress in its recovery as Asian countries increasingly treat Covid as an endemic virus, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Houldsworth, the company’s managing director and vice president for Asia Pacific, explained — in an exclusive interview with Skift — her reasons for optimism regarding Asia’s tourism industry, citing in particular the pent-up demand for travel Booking.com has seen. A traveler index survey found that 92 percent of Chinese consumers would travel once the country’s borders reopened. China’s citizens are still largely prohibited by Beijing from traveling internationally.
Finally, in another measure of the robust return of travel demand, Lufthansa is bringing back the Airbus A380, which it had decommissioned during the heart of the pandemic, writes Airlines Reporter Russell. The jet is one of the largest passenger planes with capacity for more than 800 passengers.
Lufthansa said on Monday that the steep rise in travel demand and the delayed delivery of aircraft it ordered drove the company to reactivate the eight A380s in its fleet. The German airline had sold six of the 14 A380s it parked in 2020 following the sharp drop in air travel. The eight remaining superjumbo jets will return to service in the summer of 2023.
But Lufthansa has not disclosed yet when or where it will fly the A380 starting from next summer. It flew the aircraft mainly from its Frankfurt hub — but also Munich — to destinations including Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Shanghai.