Air traffic at three airports in the Gulf region has finally started to grow after they dived during the pandemic, but many obstacles are now facing passengers who want to get out and while the dangers of coronavirus are beginning to recede.
International airports in San Jose, Auckland and San Francisco have seen a large increase in passenger travel in recent months, and airlines are launching new long-haul and domestic routes to attract more people to the skies.
British Airways has just resumed direct flights between London Heathrow and Mineta San Jose International. And ZIPAIR, a relatively new low-cost airline, said it would offer flights between Tokyo-Narita and San Jose airports this December.
In San Francisco, Condor is offering a new service for the German area of Frankfurt, and Swap is offering a service to Edmonton, Canada. In Auckland, Spirit Airlines is offering new flights to connect East Bay with San Diego and Newark in the New York area, while Hawaiian Airlines is offering flights to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The resumption of direct flights between Silicon Valley and London “represents a significant milestone in our recovery,” San Jose International Aviation Director John Aitken said in a statement.
Recovery is also underway for airports across the United States, according to Brett Snyder, founder and author of the aviation industry site Cranky Flier, which has grown dramatically since last summer.
“Across the country, things are absolutely flourishing,” Snyder said. “Demand is huge for domestic travel and nearby international travel – especially for Latin America and Europe.”
International travel is recovering particularly slowly. But this month, the United States said it would no longer require passengers flying from a foreign country to show a negative COVID-19 test, easing the previous restriction.
Even so, air passengers have to travel through a forbidden landscape if they want to fly. Rising fuel costs, a shortage of planes, a shortage of skilled pilots and airlines ’quest to raise ticket prices as they struggle to recover from the economic problems associated with the pandemic add to the list of air traffic barriers.
“Ticket prices are definitely higher now,” said Carmen Silva, a North Carolina Rally resident who visited San Jose this week to meet her boyfriend. “In March, I paid $ 380 for a return trip between Raleigh and San Jose. I paid $ 1,000 this time. ”
And while some passengers are sick of being closed and willing to pay large sums to fly, others are staying away, and some potential passengers are still wary of crowded seats and no masks on flights as the virus continues to spread.
The monthly activity of passengers in the three air hubs in the Gulf area is still far lower than before the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, when federal, state and local government agencies imposed extensive business suspensions and limited travel.
Measured after the departure of the seats in the plane, a metric compiled by Cirium, which follows the trends in aviation, it is clear that all three airports in the Gulf area are struggling to fully recover from COVID-related passenger losses.
In June 2022, compared to June 2019, the airport in San Francisco fell by 25.1%, in San Jose by 20.2%, and in Auckland by 9.5%.
But there are encouraging signs. The level of passengers in all three passenger hubs is higher than a year ago, according to statistics released by a trio of international airports.
San Jose International carried 972,600 passengers in April, up 108.9% from the same month in 2021. Oakland International carried 918,500 passengers in April, an increase of 53.8%. In March, San Francisco International carried just over 3.09 million passengers, an increase of 166.9% over March 2021.
Auckland is returning its missing passengers faster than airports in San Jose or San Francisco. The East Bay air hub relies more on domestic leisure travel, while San Francisco usually relies on trans-Pacific flights, many of which have been shut down due to viruses.
“San Jose is more of a business market than a leisure market, and business travel is recovering very slowly,” said Snyder of Cranky Flier. “San Jose has struggled more than other markets to recover. It is tied to Silicon Valley, which is really a business market. ”
“Things are harder for the San Francisco airport because the SFO is the gateway to the Pacific,” Snyder continued. “Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are still limited. Even South Korea and Japan are slowly beginning to open up.
However, demand is growing across the region and airlines seem to be reacting even as they struggle to recover. Southwest Airlines, for example, said it would introduce direct flights between Palm Springs and San Jose from Nov. 6. In San Francisco, Breeze Airways offers new flights to San Bernardino; Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and Westchester County, New York.
But the news is not so good for consumers. High demand means that high ticket prices do not go anywhere, especially during the summer months when travel is especially popular.
“There is a huge demand based on the limited supply of flights,” Snyder said. “Airlines know that demand is really high, so prices are rising.