The experience of living through a pandemic is likely to prompt people to travel more than they did in the pre-Covid era, according Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian.

Speaking during a Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference on 1 June, Bastian cited the “human spirit to travel”, saying it is “hard to keep that bottled up”.

Therefore, while the current strong recovery seen in US markets will moderate to an extent, “I think demand is going to settle out at a higher level of activity than we were seeing in 2019”, he predicts.

That is because people will “no longer take travel for granted as they did in the past”, Bastian says, and will “want to invest” in more travel experiences.

“[People have] lost almost three years of experience during the pandemic and I don’t think this is going to be something that is this summer or just this year,” he adds in reference to the high demand for travel being seen in Delta’s markets today.

Of the international markets served by the SkyTeam carrier, Bastian notes that Europe “is on fire” in demand terms, while early signs of a strong recovery are being seen in Asia-Pacific markets such as Australia, Japan and South Korea as they reopen.

Bastian is also encouraged by the loosening of travel restrictions in the remaining South American countries that were yet to reopen to non-essential travellers.

2021 Airline Strategy Award for Executive Leadership

Source: Ed Telling Photography

Bastian says international demand is returning as markets reopen