Travel agency air sales backslide due to Covid's delta variant

For the week that ended Aug. 15, the number of air tickets sold by U.S. travel agencies was down 41.1% compared with 2019, the worst result since the week that ended May 16, ARC data shows. 

Last week’s sales were also markedly worse than the week prior, which were off 34.7% compared with 2019. 

Travel agencies saw a similar plunge in the value of tickets they sold relative to 2019. Last week’s volume was off 56.4% from 2019. The previous week, volume was off 51.3% from 2019.

The backslide comes as the spread of Covid-19’s delta variant is weakening demand in the airline sector. Southwest last week blamed the variant for a recent decline in close-in bookings and an increase in cancellations. The carrier also downgraded its August revenue forecast.

Pandemic-era ticket sales by U.S. travel agencies hit their high point during the week ending July 11, when total transactions were off just 22.6% from 2019, according to ARC. Sales volume that week was off 39.8% from 2019, as high-value corporate and international itineraries lagged well behind domestic leisure travel. 

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