Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at JetBlue's legal warning, ongoing broad travel recovery, and the booking startup for Gen-Z travelers.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, February 23. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

U.S. Department of Justice has yet to issue a ruling about the proposed merger between JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines. Still, that isn’t stopping JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes from pushing back, stating that the company will take the Justice Department to court if it blocks the deal, reports Edward Russell, editor Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Hayes said this week the New York-based carrier hopes to get an answer soon about the Justice Department’s decision. Although Russell writes the proposed merger appears to have strong grassroots support, he notes multiple reports indicate the department is preparing to oppose it on the grounds it could reduce competition. A JetBlue-Spirit merger would create the fifth largest airline in the U.S.

JetBlue and Spirit aim to close their merger in the first quarter of 2024 although Russell adds that timeline hinges on the Justice Department’s decision.

Next, the global travel industry is inching closer to a complete rebound from the pandemic. Skift Research’s newly released Travel Health Index for January reveals the industry made significant progress in its recovery from the previous month.

Research Analyst Saniya Zanpure reports the Index’s average global health score hit 89 percent of pre-Covid levels. That’s the highest registered since the start of the pandemic. Zanpure adds that all regions recorded substantial improvements in their travel performances from December. Both Latin and North America have already made complete recoveries from the pandemic while the Middle East and Europe are just shy of hitting pre-Covid levels.

Zanpure also writes 2023 is shaping up to be a strong year for the travel industry, which is poised to get a major boost from China recently easing Covid-era travel curbs. The Asia Pacific region’s travel performance only hit 80 percent of 2019 levels in January.

Finally, Los Angeles-based hotel booking startup Safara aims to become a valuable resource for the growing number of Gen Z travelers. It believes its curated lists and focus on greener travel can help woo that demographic, reports Contributor Sherry Sun.

Co-founder Doug Scheussler said the company sees valuable opportunities in the segment making up 40 percent of the U.S. consumer market. A 2022 report found travel products and services rank third among its top spending categories. The company’s staff works to curate condensed lists of hotels recommended through community feedback to help reduce the often lengthy processes of travel research and booking. And as Sun writes that Gen Z consumers are more likely to make decisions based on environmental factors, Safara has also invested in a carbon emissions offset program to ensure every booking is carbon-neutral.

Safara, which has received backing from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, also operates on an invite-only membership basis.

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Tags: jetblue airways, skift podcast, skift research

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