Ouch: IATA Now Predicts Travel Won’t Recover Until 2024

Filed Under: Misc.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the largest trade organization representing major airlines, has released an updated global passenger forecast, showing that recovery in air travel is slower than had been expected.

Air travel recovery delayed by a year

IATA has released its updated forecast regarding a travel recovery, which is bad news for airlines. According to IATA:

  • The recovery in long haul travel is expected to happen in 2024 (this is passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs); this is a year later than expected
  • The recovery in short haul travel is expected to happen in 2023, faster than the recovery we’ll see for long haul travel; this is still later than expected, as previous IATA projections said this recovery would happen in 2022
  • For 2020, total global passenger traffic is expected to decline by 55% compared to 2019; this is worse than the April 2019 forecast of a 46% drop
  • The global load factor in June 2020 was just 57.6%, representing an all-time low for the industry

While these updated forecasts are worth being aware of, ultimately even an organization with as much data and resources as IATA is really just throwing darts at a board here.

When the pandemic started we saw the airline industry give very specific timelines for a travel recovery, when in reality it seems like there were far too many unknowns to give any sort of a useful prediction.

I realize airlines have to plan best they can, and need to give employees and shareholders a sense of where things stand. But there are just so many variables, not the least of which is if/when we’ll see a vaccine, and how useful it would be.

Short haul travel is expected to recover before long haul travel

Why the renewed pessimism? 

Why is IATA expecting global travel recovery to take a year longer than was expected just a couple of months ago? It comes down to a few trends:

  • Slow virus containment in the US and developing economies: while developed economies outside of the US have largely been successful in containing the virus, that hasn’t been the case in the US and many developing economies, which represent 40% of global air travel markets
  • Reduced corporate travel: corporate travel budgets are expected to be highly constrained, not to mention the safety and logistical challenges associated with traveling right now
  • Weak consumer confidence: While there’s demand for visiting friends and relatives as well as leisure travel, consumer confidence is weak over concerns of job security and rising unemployment

As Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, describes the forecast:

“Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying. International markets remain largely closed. Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travelers returning from Spain. And in many parts of the world infections are still rising. All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy.

For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures—financial and otherwise. A full Northern Winter season waiver on the 80-20 use-it-or-lose it slot rule, for example, would provide critical relief to airlines in planning schedules amid unpredictable demand patterns. Airlines are planning their schedules. They need to keep sharply focused on meeting demand and not meeting slot rules that were never meant to accommodate the sharp fluctuations of a crisis. The earlier we know the slot rules the better, but we are still waiting for governments in key markets to confirm a waiver.”

IATA is pessimistic due to the US response to coronavirus

Bottom line

IATA is now predicting that short haul travel won’t recover until 2023, and long haul travel won’t recover until 2024, which represents a one year delay compared to predictions shared a couple of months ago.

This worse forecast is due to slow virus containment in the US and in developing countries, reduced corporate travel, and weak consumer confidence.

While it’s worth being aware of IATA’s projections, I think it’s safe to say that there are so many variables here, and it’s hard to view this as anything more than an educated guess.

What do you make of IATA’s projections for a travel industry recovery?

  1. Tourism is mostly gone until the virus disappears or effective treatments are found. I personally don’t see a vaccine ever being successful. Or if you could accurate predict who will have the most severe or long term effects from the virus (it can cause heart inflammation even among people who are asymptomatic).

    You might have 20% of previous travelers who will continue to travel but most others aren’t going very far. And with the risk of getting stuck in a quarantine overseas for an unknown period of time, most will pass on travel.

    And no one can accurately predict 4 years out. We could be in the exact same situation facing the same, a mutated virus, or a new virus by then. Most of the world certainly hasn’t learned much from this experience except it is impossible to predict how stupid people are.

  2. I’m certainly grounding myself for the rest of 2020. On average I’d take over 40 flights a year. I’ve gotten to 9 pre-lockdown and wont do any more right now. Traveling locally in a car instead.

  3. Airlines make their money from selling business class tickets. As long as businesses are not spending money, airlines can’t be profitable. Many businesses now realize that zoom meeting will do and there is no need to send their employees cross country/ cross ocean to various meetings. It’ll be a very long while before airlines start to make money again like it did in the past few years.

    Pleasure travels will start before businesses do. But most of them won’t be buying expensive business class tickets. So good luck to airlines…..

  4. Well, I am not surprised.
    We will also see permanent damage and/ or huge reductions in spending in some sectors.

  5. They are still too optimistic: even beyond the arguments about vaccine efficiencies, most people will just not have the disposable income that would justify spending on a long haul trip.

  6. Then it will be 2026, then 2030 and then never. If the fear mongers want to keep it locked down for a virus that kills mostly the old and sick then the coming worldwide super depression (and probably a war) will keep air travel permanently dead.

  7. “Tourism is mostly gone until the virus disappears”

    US TSA screenings since the July 4 week have been 25-30% of 2019 levels.

    That’s obviously a disastrous level for travel industry financials, but “mostly gone” is a gross overstatement.

  8. You people are all absolutely ridiculous.

    A vaccine will be in hand by end of December, even according to your Saint Fauci.

    Why in the heck would we not recover for THREE MORE YEARS after that???

    Do you all just enjoy spewing pessimism???

    I don’t get you. Bunch of pansies.

  9. Corporations are realizing that all that flying by their minions to sales meetings, etc – is useless, and budgets will be slashed accordingly.

  10. @Robin, People like you and Trump that is the reason the US has so many infected people. Please do not travel outside of your house, keep the virus to yourself.

  11. @Robin

    Recession, high unemployment, reduced business travel. This forecast is reasonable based on the available data. If you want unfounded optimism you should go somewhere else. Sounds like your fee-fees are too fragile for reality.

  12. 1,000 people in several countries were asked what percentage of their nation’s population had died of the virus. Answers ranged from 3% in Germany to 9% (30M people!)in the US.

    As long as people hold these crazy beliefs, travel will not recover.

    The actual percentage for the US is two magnitudes lower: less than 0.05%.

  13. Any person who claims business can now be done over zoom, doesn’t actually work with clients.

    Before someone blah blah blah’s me, every single metric that my employers have judged me on improve when I am able to sit across the table from a client, shake hands and small talk between the lobby and conference room.

    If you disagree, you’ve never been in the shoes of the people who travel for work.

  14. This is too early (sadly). Heck, we don’t even know if we are still caught up in the first wave or the second wave. And sadly, COVID-19 cases will rise back up in fall. See, the problem is, more and more people come out for jOgGiNg, eXeRciSiNg. And with countries lifting curfews, the cases could spool up. I know, as an avgeek, this is really sad but as a human myself, I should say it’s better to stay in our homes so that we can live to fly back on planes once the vaccine is found and COVID-19 cases begin to finally start decreasing. The best bet is that travel won’t recover until 2025-26.

  15. @ Biz Guy:

    In 1985 nobody imagined non smoking bars…
    In 1995 nobody imagined that “internet is the thing of the future”
    In 2005 nobody imagined self driving cars
    i can go on…..

  16. @grrizzly
    But isn’t that the point? Most people are dumb as a post. Their ability to assess risk realistically is nugatory. That’s why drink-driving laws had to be introduced — before them, a large hardcore group consistently over-estimated their driving competency after a bottle of wine or half a dozen beers.

    There’s a delightful survey repeated from time to time in the UK: it consistently shows that 80% of drivers believe their driving ability is “above average”.

    But the small numbers infected are only one part of the equation; the other part is the consequence if you are one of the unlucky ones. It’s why many people buy lottery tickets: the chances of winning are of course tiny, but the cost of entry is low and the consequence of winning is fabulous!

  17. Honestly this is great for non-Americans. I’ll be traveling again in November, and I am stoked to have entire cities to myself. Just be happy if you live in a good country and have the freedom to travel freely. I mean shit, we can now work remotely from anywhere in the world!

  18. @Biz Guy maybe your client skills need an update for a new era? Face to face has often been desirable but these days most clients don’t want to be close to another face. My employer has put us through extensive training on how to sell and service clients assuming travel can’t happen anytime soon. So far it’s working better than expected and the cost savings from travel cuts have kept my employer profitable.

  19. A vaccine will hopefully avoid the worst of these projections, but who knows for sure.

    As for the US, I honestly think it goes beyond any government response. This thing to me feels pretty inevitable. South Africa shut down their borders completely in and out a few months ago, and now are getting walloped with Covid. This has finally reached Latin America, Central Asia, and even Japan and Australia. Spain and France are seeing a resurgence, and while they are not seeing the cases we are, they do not test anywhere near the levels we do. We are having more problems than them though, no doubt.

    I am starting to think the air conditioning theory is very real. Would explain all the very hot states in the US (AZ, inland CA, TX, FL, etc.) seeing the most cases, as well as Israel and Japan, seeing a rise as well. As well for our death rate, well… we’re fat as hell. “Underlying conditions” often have to do with obesity. it also explains why the Black and Latino communities are getting hit harder than Whites and Asians, as the former are on average fatter than the latter two.

    We may pass Sweden, who did very little, on death rate for this. That’s a pretty good sign government response probably isn’t as big of a factor as first thought, at least once the virus is clearly already spreading in your country.

    Sorry for the tangent lol.

  20. Yeah like anyone can see past the next 3-4 months. This virus isn’t going away. We will adapt and learn to travel again. A combination of vaccin, treatments, prevention and basic hygiene will allow us to move forward. I thinks what’s clear is that some people are mostly going to avoid travel for the short/medium term. Like older and more at risk people. I also think business travel will pick up before the rest. Some businesses are based on international travel. The congress and meetings industry is one. It’s the linchpin of lots of other businesses.

  21. Total BS!!!!! I know many people that got Covid, had mild cold symptoms, recovered and are virus free now. They are living normal lives. Yes, some people die. Yes, it is new but there are lots of diseases out there that have no cure and we just learn how to live with it. BTW, Europeans are all on vacation now, probably not flying much but driving and spending time in the countries but traveling. Some will cave in until a vaccine is found (which could be never). Others will just live their lives.

  22. @bizguy – it certainly depends on your job whether meetings can handled virtually vs in person. But not all business needs to be handled in person and companies are now starting to realize it due to covid. I agree travel budgets will generally be slashed. My husbands company had a pretty decent year and brought on many new clients virtually. But to your point, travel will remain for some businesses but I question if the airline industry will return to 2019 levels even in 2024. I just don’t see it.

  23. You have to be crazy if you think travel isn’t coming back as soon as a vaccine comes out (2021).

  24. As always there are the usual dumb as a post replies here upthread. Some are unable to fathom that a vaccine isnt necessarily going to be a quick everything back to normal cure. It will depend on how quickly the vaccine is dispersed through the world population. Sure, travel in the US should be back to a reduced normal by next Spring. But a lot of long haul travel will depend on how quickly countries remove overseas travel restrictions and that would depend on vaccine dispersion across the world.
    Again, more importantly, a large number of middle to low income casual vacation travelers won’t become whole financially for at least 3 years or more – that is likely to have a deeper effect vacation travel.
    About business travel we really don’t know what will happen 2 years down, if companies have success with virtual meetings travel will decrease, if they dont it wont. Its not an easy prediction.

  25. @Shawn – for what it’s worth: I don’t see it immediately rebounding, but these doom and gloom predictions are outlandish. I would venture to guess most road warriors stay grounded through the end of q1 next year with travel gradually increasing through q2-3. No clue what leisure will look like.

  26. I’m not surprised. Maybe it’s different in other regions, but in Europe, the fear culture promoted by airlines really hurt the business. Tourism itself is recovering and it’s becoming clear that people are willing to travel – cities, museums, restaurants and bars are buzzing with people. Not as much as they used to of course, but it’s much better than what happened to the airline industry. At the same time I see far more foreign licence plates these months than I used to, which suggests more people are opting to drive instead of flying.

    I think where European airlines got it all wrong is when they decided to add as many “meassures” as possible. Now they struggle to convince people to fly – those who are afraid of the virus will not fly because planes look like radioactive zones, while those who do choose to travel avoid planes because it’s just too much hassle. I can’t see air travel in Europe recovering before it returns more or less back to normal (like other industries did).

  27. IATA is in the business of helping their member airlines, particularly US airlines. US airlines are in the business, right now, of getting government handouts, not transporting people. Thus, the best forecast for airlines right now is a cataclysmic one that says they will need to get more government handouts or they will not survive, therefore, this forecast was made to serve the interests of the airlines.

  28. Arguably, it’s never coming back. The one thing that this did is prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that much (if not most) business travel is unnecessary. Even when there is a treatment, vaccine or herd immunity, business aren’t going to pay for unnecessary travel. And if businesses aren’t traveling, then there will be a significant impact on the rest of the leisure travelling public, since it’s generally the businesses that pay all the bills. What people fail to understand about all of this is that a 10%-15% decline in business expenditures will cripple the travel industry. Many hotels will go bankrupt (not necessarily the companies, but the individual properties that just have franchise agreements with the names). I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that one major US airline is going to go Chapter 7 (i.e. cease to exist). As we all know, many restaurants will never recover.

    People are still pretending that this is “all going to magically go back to the way things were in 2019.” That’s not going to happen. We’ll all be (mostly) ok, but this is an inflection point, not just a temporary pause.

  29. @Roman, how much extra do hospitals get for each fatality? Because the US is around 10th in per capita COVID cases and 10th in per capita COVID deaths. Before your answer that it is because of all the testing, the US is 20th in COVID testing, so it isn’t because of all the testing.

  30. You and Ford travelled all the way from infected Florida (with such high Covid numbers) all the way to Turkey, and so there may be others who also like the two of you might travel for no reason at all and we’ll see air travel return back to normal. Great encouragement from both of you with face shields, mask and gloves to set the standard for the new normal. Why should we be worried about a decline or even wait for a vaccine!!

  31. @AW – having experienced several doomsday predictions in my 35+ years as a road warrior, I can tell you that while businesses scale back travel after recessions and 9/11, they always revert back to normal over time when the economy heals. I agree that this is a very severe event and many businesses will fail but those that survive and new ones that come along will go back “on the road,” eventually.

    As for international travel returning to normal later rather than sooner, I would bet on sooner because in spite of what many here believe, the Business Class cabins on the flights to the EU I normally take each month are more heavily weighted with older tourists, rather than people like myself who travel on business. Even though the economy will take a long time to heal, the virus could, and hopefully will, be beat down sooner, perhaps within a year, returning leisure travelers to international destinations. I’d say 2023 is a better estimate.

  32. I feel bad for those who work in the travel and tourism industry especially cruise ship workers. Even if there is a vaccine, those who are higher risk and the elderly will have some form of anxiety being in a confined space for long periods.

  33. This pessimistic public posturing by IATA is an expected prerequisite for airlines to begin to once again line up at the trough of public subsidy (aka taxpayer’s money).

    If you don’t predict doom-and-gloom, and dire financial predictions (layoffs, furloughs, bankruptcies, etc.) how will you convince Congress to dole out an ever increasing amount of [my] money?

  34. I’m glad I have a second EU passport (dual citizen), because there’s going to be a stigma for a long time to come for U.S. passport holders — at borders, airports, hotels.

  35. Shocking how many seem to have all the answers here and claim the rest of us are idiots. Might be time to look in the mirror.

  36. I have been fully expecting this. Prior to Covid I averaged 10 trips a year to Asia from LAX as well as 3 to 5 to Europe and the Middle East. In addition extensive US travel with a very heavy dose of Silicon Valley since I am in the tech industry. Google is one of my major customers. They announced this week that they will continue to mostly work remotely until July 2021. That of course means no travel as well. They are a bellwether tech company and many will follow suit. Then the if there is a vaccine the spigot will turn on but slowly. Our company released our earnings today and we did quite well. Part of the reason is we are spending zero on travel and entertainment. The article references this and CFO’s love it.

    My guess is airlines are going to roll status once more another 6 months to July 2021. There will be no elites left if they dont.

  37. Relying on a lobbying group for a realistic projection is silly. I’ve continued to fly the last few months for work and biz class has generally been full, just a different demographic. Instead of the suit and tie crowd it’s people who understand their own need to distance… over 65 or over 250.

    Given the opportunity and sufficient info people are capable of making responsible choices. Those who don’t have to accept the consequences. Same story for drunk/distracted driving, unprotected sex with multiple partners, etc, etc. The list of risks we accept and potentially subject others to is pretty long. Eventually travel will become an acceptable risk to most individuals when we understand COVID-19 better or just stop caring.

    The real question is government regulation. That’s much harder to predict. Pretty sure the non-precheck crowd still removes their shoes after one guy unsuccessfully tried to light up a shoe bomb 20 years ago. Sadly governments everywhere are slow to respond to a crisis and even slower to return to “normal”. In other words expect to wear a mask and social distance for an indefinite period. Even long after COVID-19.

    What politician will say it’s now OK to have people die from seasonal flu when the current restrictions could continue to save lives even after the pandemic? I honestly don’t know. But when they say “new normal” they mean it.

    That’s why personally I hate to see so much government intervention. Not because I’m anti-mask or believe in some grand conspiracy, but because I fear that government will always maintain any regulation or bureaucracy to the extent it shows they care about your safety. Even if it’s just for show.

    So when will travel rebound? As soon as a plurality of voters make it clear they want to travel uninhibited again. Regardless of political affiliation. Add 6 months for the usual debate, lawsuits, etc and that’s your answer.

  38. @ Biz Guy commenters:

    I have owned a Marketing and Private Label import company for 25 years, all but this year profitably.

    I have done 6 and 7 figure projects since before there was an internet. My client meetings over the years have been in person, conference calls and video/computer hook ups, Zoom, et al.. Some of my clients do not wish to do any face to face contact and some really benefit and enjoy our doing so at least as a kick-off.

    My personal feeling is that I enjoy meeting personally with those I do business if they are on the other side of town or the other side of the world……same with our suppliers who are mostly International. BUT, I’m not preaching. I am just relating my opinion which is what feels comfortable for me. Everyone makes these decisions for themselves, no right or wrong answer, no-one is old fashioned or super smart by their decisions whether that personal contact has value.

  39. Had 5 business trips planned this year, two of them international, all canceled. No business travel set for next year – I have done 30+ Webex meetings with other offices 5+ zoom meetings, 20+ Google meets. Employer said all travel for 2021 and 2022 is unnecessary at this point.

  40. Travel won’t fully recover until 2023 or 2024. But those that think 2021 will look like 2020 are kidding themselves. There will be significantly more travel in 2021 than 2020, and significantly more travel in 2022 than 2021, etc.

  41. I really am puzzled by some people here thinking that a vaccine is some form of a panacea. At best, a vaccine is effective roughly 50% of the time and at worst perhaps 30%. Furthermore, aging results in vaccines being less effective in the elderly. It really does appear that this virus will be around for a while and life will have to adapt.

  42. It all depends on when a vaccine becomes widely available and how effective it is. Everyone has their hopes up, but vaccines against upper respiratory illnesses have proven to be very challenging. And if the vaccine is rushed out, I’ll be worried that the side effects are insufficiently known….if it comes out in 2020, we will know nothing about side effects even a few months out. I am certainly not going to be first in line to take it.

  43. Tourism is probably dead as it currently is. People will not want to waste what little income they’ve got in the hope that they don’t get quarantined in a foreign country or that they have to pay for non refundable tickets plus all the extras only to show up at the airport, take a test at check in and find out they’re positive for corona and lose all their money. If tourism wants to rebound this decade they’ll be faced with one option only, making airline tickets almost exclusively full fare. Most business travelers aren’t coming back and as this boomer generation retires during this rebound, younger people won’t travel for meetings because they’re tech savvy and more efficient on video calls. It’s time to pack it in and start looking at new ways to make tourism work, because the current model is going to be obsolete the middle of the decade

  44. To those saying work flying will recover.. Are you in a policy making position at your job?
    Or a you merely a servant to your corporate overlord wishfully thinking.

    You gotta be crazy thinking most companies wont be looking to save money…. or maybe they ll just send you in Y ..

  45. the industry will take time to rebound, many years but it will come back…just in time for the next pandemic.

  46. I can be hopeful for a vaccine, but the side effects of the ones in development do not look like fun. This is a serious illness, one whose long-term impact is not yet known. Death and health are not the only two outcomes.
    Also, look at what the IATA wants: a winter suspension of the 80-20 rule. Now, the suspension of the rule helps airlines a lot: if the plane ain’t full, don’t fly.
    Now take the pax perspective: go to the airport, wear a mask full time, additional questions and health checks, maybe your flight leaves, maybe you’re rebooked on two or three other flights. Spend hours shoulder to shoulder with other people, breathing air that may or may not contain virus-laden aerosols. Sure, if you get it, odds are 1 in a thousand it’ll kill you, and much better for lasting health effects. It’s like going to a game in a stadium where 5 members of the crowd selected and random will die and 500 will have life-changing health problems. Would you go?

    Finally, businesses. Say what you want, physical presence makes a huge difference. And say what you want, most middle managers are more trend-followers than actually intelligent. Virtual meetings are the trend, and they can certainly contribute something. But companies aren’t going to expand their travel budgets until someone realizes the limitations of virtuality.

  47. No mention of how the idiot British pulled the rug out from under the tourists who went to Spain after bring told there was a safe air corridor. Actions like that really discourage a return to normal.

  48. On for f#$ks sake! This panic porn pandemic is getting more ridiculous daily. Why don’t they just forecast it to 2079? And dopes read this baloney and repeat it and then it becomes the narrative. God, humans are so stoopid and never learn. I’m out.

  49. It’s all down to border arrangements. People want to travel both for work and leisure. But as long as entry is prohibited (like EU/US and vice versa) it obviously wont happen. And if it is subject of a two week quarantine/isolation it will only happen to a very limited degree.

  50. Two thoughts
    1. There is a major nationwide shortage of testing supplies in the US again
    My group has to reduce from 2,500 tests per day to 500

    Thus: no tests for travel will be done

    2. Peter G said that a vaccine is at best 50% effective
    Thus is not true

    One dose of measles vaccine is 93% effective
    2 doses is 99% effective

    Most vaccines are 90% or more

    Notable exceptions are pertussis (whooping cough) and influenza

    But COVID is not influenza

    We have never created a vaccine within 4 years before
    But we have also never tried like this

    The vaccine may not be successful
    But there are many reasons why it will be

    Especially since the world is developing several different types of vaccines that will all go head to head

    It is highly likely the vaccine will be required in some countries
    Similar to yellow fever

  51. Also
    There is a new type of testing coming soon

    This can in theory increase testing ability by 5-10x
    In theory it will not suffer the same supply chain issues either

    But we heard that before

  52. @James.

    While it’s a knee jerk to imagine a stigma on Americans is, and will be, a global thing to contend with, I find that we are in fact the most critical of ourselves. That’s not a bad thing.

    I have been in the EU for work back and forth the past month and find that there is no great stigma or feeling of being some pariah. The few that even talk about the U.S. do so in a manner that is simply, “I really hope everyone is safe and healthy back home for you as we hear it’s terrible there.”

    The reality is that in the EU they have had their own history of mistakes, tyrants, infighting, and idiocy. They don’t necessarily associate that to being a specific American thing (other than a few European commenters here that love to stoke it anonymously). but are smart enough to know that It’s just human nature in general. We all mess up. And boy was this ever our turn.

    Everyone here: Immigration, hotels, restaurants, airlines, shop owners, colleagues, people at cafes, are all perfectly respectful and welcoming. It’s time we stop assuming that anon commenters on an internet blog are the voice of reality as to what the actual sentiment is.

    Americans are rightfully doing a fine job beating ourselves up. No one else wants or needs to help in that regard. If anything I find most here are sympathetic and have faith that we will correct the trajectory of politics and populism that the minority of Americans believe in.

  53. Business travel has been one of the greatest rip-offs/ confidence tricks of recent decades: 90% of it totally unnecessary ( but deemed to be vital by those benefiting from it), tax deductible ( so taxpayers subsidise the scam), and perks like miles, points, status benefits reside with the individual rather than the entity paying for the travel.
    It’s never coming back in the same way as before.

  54. @Stuart: I, for one, really appreciate your perspective. Things are going so poorly in the U.S. (both politically and virus wise) that I have a great fear that the world is laughing at us (a reverse American Exceptionalism). And, anecdotally, that has been proved true by a few commentators—but glad to hear that it is not a majority opinion. And you are right about Europe—Law and Justice party anyone?

    I am optimistic by nature, and do believe that the worst of the forecasts will not come true. I still plan to travel internationally by late Q2 2021 and will hold with that plan for the foreseeable future. Before then, who knows. And I do believe that not all countries will be open to travelers by mid 2021, vaccine or no. But by 2022, surely. Will everyone leap back? Probably not but the trajectory should be firmly upwards by then.

    As to business travel, as with the travel forecasts generally I believe the worst of the doom and gloom is overstated. I am a consultant and pre-covid traveled frequently for work. Robert Crandall, former AA CEO, was recently quoted as saying he believes that at least 1/3 of pre pandemic business travel will not return. And based on my personal observations, that seems a reasonable expectation. I worked for at least two firms that used the 3/4/5 rule—3 nights, 4 days away, fifth day at home or in the office. That mantra may change (and for the good I believe) to something much more reasonable. Coincident to that, the rush to face to face meetings or feeling the pressure to do so will back off considerably, So a 1/3 reduction feels right.

  55. @James – If you fear that your US Passport will stigmatize you, you can go to your nearest US Embassy and fill-in form DS-4080. They’ll be more than glad to begin the removal of your ‘stigma’ and you can travel again boldly, without fear of someone looking down at you.

    @The Orginal Donna – I could not agree with you more. I’ve seen more than my share of ‘Things will never be the same!’ Chicken Little shenanigans in my time, too. Things over time always trend toward the median (or ‘normal’). What we have now is a data outlier – maybe not even on the graph! It’s just a question of how soon it will trend back towards normal. We’ll only know after we’re there, and then many will find something else to worry about.

  56. @The Real Krampus: Like it or not, things will never be the same again, just as they weren’t the same after WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War … and on it goes. Things will be different. The economy will ultimately be the driver for travel in the future. It’s not just a matter of slapping on a mask and hopping on a plane – it’s having the means to do so. I envy your ability to stay unconcerned about major events … yet you get so worked up about a travel blog.

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