Airline executives said people are starting to book flights again, a potential inflection point after the coronavirus pandemic decimated travel demand in recent months.
Top U.S. carriers said Tuesday at an industry conference and in filings that new bookings have started to trickle in and cancellations have slowed.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it would restore some capacity in July. Southwest Airlines Co. said its flights are 25% to 30% full. It previously expected its planes to be at most 10% full this month.
“We have seen a little bit of a bounce off the bottom,” Paul Jacobson, Delta Air Lines Inc.’s chief financial officer, said at a webcast conference.
Delta said sales have exceeded refunds on some days recently, a reversal of the recent trend. The bookings are a signal of plans for leisure travel in June and July, Mr. Jacobson said.
“But we have to be careful that those actually translate into trips and don’t just cancel,” he said, adding that even with the uptick, demand is still a fraction of what it typically would be during the usually busy summer months.
Air travel all but ground to a halt in April as lockdowns, international travel restrictions and fear of infection kept people home. Airline executives have said they believe it could take years for demand to return to last year’s levels, before the pandemic hit.