The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which continues to make its way into communities across the country, "has all but blunted" the airline industry's path to recovery as travelers rethink their plans again, according to Adobe Analytics.
At the start of the year, consumer confidence in travel picked up as vaccination rates rose across the nation. The pent-up demand in air travel was a welcome relief for the battered industry with consumers spending $6 billion in domestic flights in June. This figure was only 5% below pre-pandemic levels, according to Adobe.
However, online spending in domestic flight bookings dropped by 13% in July, with consumers spending a total of $5.26 billion, according to Adobe.
During the first three weeks of August, bookings continued to decline at an aggressive pace as consumers starting "taking the Delta variant seriously and once again shifting their travel plans," Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, Vivek Pandya, said.
From Aug. 1 to 21, consumers only spent $2.9 billion on domestic flight bookings, down 33% compared to that same time period in 2019.
At the current rate, Adobe expects spending throughout the month of August "to be significantly under July," Pandya said. "These two months historically have similar spend levels, once again showing that like in 2020, the pandemic will continue dictating the terms."
Ticket prices are starting to decline as demand wanes, Adobe said.
July marked the first month when airline ticket prices notched 2019 levels. However, ticket prices in August prices have already started to drop and are 6% below pre-pandemic levels, according to Adobe.