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Covid-19 has set the markets on a volatile path and wrecked normal functioning of the economy. Social distancing is the new normal. Global economies are reeling and the travel industry is probably the worst hit. As people take stock of the situation, many frequent travelers are asking the million dollar question. When will travel get back to normal post Covid-19?

Covid-19 and Travel

Even economists are currently divided on whether there will be a U, V or W shaped recovery. Executive Traveler recently published this article which provided some key insights on the short term future of the travel industry.

The first 6-9 months of post-coronavirus travel (mid-late 2021, on our ambit timeline) will see ‘tiptoe travellers’ venturing out.

Across the 8-16 month mark (through to mid-2022) Atmosphere predicts a wave of what it calls ‘pioneers’.

From 12-18 months they’ll be joined by a rush of ‘fast followers’, as the industry sees a ‘near-normal volume of business travellers’ aligned with strong bookings for the premium cabins of business and first class.

At 16-24 months after COVID-19 is considered under control), it’s time for leisure travelers to return en masse as the industry reaches “80-90% of pre-virus leisure volume”, while at 24+ months (2023) Atmosphere expects travel to be “at or above pre-virus traffic”.

The predictions in this article are on expected lines. However, I expect the ‘pioneers’ group to venture out a bit earlier than 12-18 months. The study defines the ‘pioneers’ group as business travelers and and other mid to high tier frequent flyers. Again, a lot will depend on the public health conditions in the US and many countries around the world. If things don’t get better, then we may see this period stretch out further.

The Pundit’s Mantra

Beyond the data itself, this will be an experiment in buyer behavior once governments open travel for their citizens.

How comfortable will people be in sharing spaces in places like lounges, cramped economy seats or long airport lines? Will travelers be immediately comfortable to use ride share or car rentals? In short, what will be the impact of Covid-19 on the sharing economy?

Here’s how I plan to approach this. Firstly, I intend to keep a close eye on government restrictions and announcements, both domestic and international. Secondly, intend to monitor airline schedules. Once airlines announce the reopening or restarting of routes, that’s a positive sign. Thirdly, I’ll make sure I look up health restrictions or screening requirements, especially for international travel.

If your government declares that is safe to travel, how soon will you actually head out for your next trip? Let us know in the comments section.


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