Last month, my wife and I planned our first holiday in six months. It was a hectic experience. Borders between most Australian states had been closed since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. We'd been hoping to fly three hours to the tropical resort town of Cairns in northeastern Queensland state, to escape the Sydney winter and holiday with friends.
Within hours of the announcement that Queensland's border would open, tickets on the handful of flights north started selling out. With so few seats available, yield management — the practice by which airlines monitor minute-by-minute demand for their seats, and raise prices accordingly — was in overdrive. By the time we finally booked, we'd spent about A$1,000, or 40%, more than if we'd been quicker off the mark.
That's a glimpse of what awaits travelers as the world comes out of Covid-induced hibernation over the next two years. Global air traffic is projected to decline by at least half in 2020. Most airlines believe business won't return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, at the earliest.