By summer, various factors will likely limit the ability of US airlines to continue what has been a surprisingly rapid domestic-side rebound from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Boeing’s chief executive.

Speaking on 3 June, CEO David Calhoun also says global vaccination campaigns could enable international air travel to recover to near-2019 levels by the end of 2022.

“They are going to be supply constrained beginning in the summer,” Calhoun says of US airlines. “It’s just going to feel supply-constrained for a while.”

November 2020

Source: Shutterstock

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max

Airlines must overcome challenges including the need to rapidly ramp up hiring and address supply chain shortages, Calhoun adds.

He spoke during an AllianceBernstein-hosted investor conference.

US airlines have worked this spring to scale up their operations in response to a rapid rebound in travel demand.

“It’s more robust than I ever imagined when we started the evaluation of Covid,” Calhoun says of the US industry’s domestic recovery.

He adds that international travel, which remains significantly depressed, might also rebound sooner than anticipated. Many analysts have estimated international air travel will not reach 2019 levels until 2024.

“As we exit ’22 and head into 23, we might be talking about ’19 levels,” Calhoun says. “It is completely wrapped around the distribution and penetration of vaccines.”