Research Insights Optimistic, nimble and reactive: A fresh start for U.S. airlines in 2024

Optimistic, nimble and reactive: A fresh start for U.S. airlines in 2024

May 2024
Phocuswright Research

With another strong, profitable year under their belts, airlines are ready to return to "normal." According to Phocuswright’s latest travel research report U.S. Airline Market Report 2023-2027, they are already seeing travel patterns that mirror pre-pandemic times, leading them to believe that trends have shifted back to 2019 and before.

In 2023, the air segment represented 42% of U.S. travel bookings (see figure below), edging out hotels as the country's largest travel segment. But the drawn-out comeback in corporate travel, a slowdown in economic growth and nagging worries about a possible recession in the latter part of 2024 will keep airlines guarded about the year ahead. Due to increases in capacity and lower overall airfares, airlines will not see the remarkable double-digit growth of the past three years going forward. If anything, 2024 will be a year of cautious optimism as carriers look to stay nimble and reactive in an unstable environment.

Phocuswright Chart: US Air Total Gross Bookings

Looking ahead, there are five key areas where airlines will focus their energy:

  • A (small) business travel rebound
  • Optimization is key
  • Airlines get serious about NDC
  • Low-Cost carriers struggle
  • Outlook: Avoiding recession, again

For an in-depth analysis of these five areas, as well as detailed analysis into the size of the U.S. air market and the distribution landscape, get the full report here.

This report is part of the U.S. Travel Market Report 2023-2027 series, which features an overview of the U.S. travel market, along with detailed data and analysis of five key segments: airline, hotel & lodging, car rental, cruise and packaged travel. A standalone report dedicated to online travel agencies rounds out the coverage. Collectively, the series provides comprehensive market sizing, projections and analysis for the U.S. travel industry from 2021-2027.

Other reports in the U.S. Travel Market Report 2023-2027 series include: (available now or publishing soon):

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