New data suggests that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has begun to set back the airline industry’s recovery, something that was stressed when the news of the variant first broke. Now, data from Travelport reveals that some book searches have fallen on a week to week basis — after bookings had surged in previous weeks before news of the variant was publicly announced.
Previously, when the variant was first revealed and travel restrictions were put back in place almost immediately, many airline companies publicly stated that restrictions would set back the industry’s recovery as a whole. Now, it appears that this may be happening, though to a small degree. American Airlines has, however, come out already to state that the Omicron variant will likely set back their own recovery plan.
The Omicron variant has now caused the airline industry to worry about how the holiday traveling season may look. Christmastime is one of the busiest times of the year for travel, but now restrictions, border closings, and new rounds of testing may hinder this peak season for many airlines.
For the most part, the airline industry is concerned about how the lack of international travel could greatly set back the industry’s chance to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which first began in 2020 and caused travel restrictions and country lockdowns all over the world. Now that many countries are once again closing their borders to international leisure travel — or otherwise imposing some form of restrictions — this could hurt airlines’ business.
While some in the industry are already expressing concern, there are others who are remaining optimistic that these travel restrictions will soon be lifted. Already, there is data to suggest that the Omicron variant is less deadly than the other coronavirus variants. If this holds true in the near future, then restrictions may slowly go away, and borders may reopen slightly.
Of course, the data could change once more is collected, as scientists are still attempting to fully understand this new variant. News that vaccines are effective against the variant may also greatly help remove regulations and restrictions, thereby allowing international travel to once again thrive.
The airline industry as a whole has struggled since the pandemic first began in 2020, mainly because international — and even national — flight was restricted or regulated by the government to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now, while the pandemic is still ongoing, cases have dropped in the United States, even though other countries have surged again.
News of the Omicron variant — a more contagious variant than the others — has already impacted how investors and businesses act, though there isn’t enough data yet to see how this news has affected consumers, or how consumers spend money. The airline industry hasn’t been able to truly do unrestricted travel until just a few months ago, though now major restrictions have been put back in place because of the Omicron variant. The next few weeks and months will likely help the industry understand just how this new variant will continue to impact bookings and travel.