One of the sectors that was hit very hard by the lockdown was the airline industry and for the most obvious of reasons. The near ban on travel gutted both the business travel sector as well as leisure activity. Flights were canceled by the thousands and routes were abandoned. Planes were flying with few passengers and even freight was affected. The assertion was that recovery would be impossible until at least the end of 2021 and perhaps 2022. That assumption has been proving to be inaccurate as the airline sector is roaring back more swiftly than many had assumed. The recovery in leisure travel is nearly complete and this passenger accounts for over 75% of airline activity. The business traveler is still very important to the airlines as these are the repeat customers that engage with the loyalty programs and will schedule flights at the last minute at full price. They also pay for those upgrades. This population is starting to come back as conferences and meetings and sales opportunities resume normal operations in the second half of the year.
The impact on manufacturing is beginning to manifest as well. As recently as three months ago Boeing had over 150 planes parked and available for sale and now there are just 20. Last year was the worst year for sales in five decades as there were only 157 sold. By contrast Boeing sold 806 in 2018. In 2019 they sold 380. The pace of sales now has not reached 2018 levels but they are approaching what was notched in 2019. The backlog is now essentially gone and Airbus is having much the same experience.
The TSA has reported that numbers are dramatically up against 2020 but still lower than in 2019. On June 24 of this year there were 2,085,327 passengers. In 2020 on June 24 there were 623,624 and in 2019 there were 2,711,282. The numbers this year are very close to what they used to be and that has meant added flights and will soon mean the resumption of routes that were abandoned in 2020. The primary problem now is labor shortage–too few pilots, too few flight attendants, mechanics, ground crew and even too few people at the manufacturing level.