August demand falls, and so do airfares

Domestic airline ticket prices dropped to 11% below 2019 levels in August after being on par with 2019 in July, according to an analysis by the Adobe Digital Economy Index. 

That trend, along with depressed bookings, also extended into the first 10 days of September, with prices dropping to 22% below 2019 levels. 

In August, online consumers spent an estimated $4 billion on domestic flight bookings, a 24% decline from July. From Sept. 1 through Sept. 10, online consumers spent $1.5 billion on domestic air travel, down 39% from 2019. 

Adobe Digital Insight gets its numbers by measuring transactions from six of the 10 largest U.S. carriers and then extrapolating those figures to estimate the overall market. 

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“Historically, July and August have similar consumer spending levels when it comes to domestic flight bookings,” Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst Vivek Pandya said. “The fact that August came in $1.2 billion under July is striking when you consider the historical benchmark, and it shows how much the delta variant has shaped what consumers feel about air travel.” 

Prior to August, ticket prices had been on the rise all year. In January, domestic airfares were 28% below 2019, before progressing gradually to parity by July. 

Adobe said that holiday bookings for this year are also soft thus far. Through Sept. 10 Thanksgiving flight bookings were 18% lower than they were at the same point in 2019. 

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