The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is reporting a dramatic increase in summer travel demand as the number of available flights, and carrier reported advance bookings continues to spike. Thanks to strong confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines, Minnesotans and the majority of Upper Midwest residents have been innoculated, leading to a mass desire to get out of town.
The strongest bookings thus far have been to domestic destinations, but European travelers are also increasing thanks to Delta’s resumption of non-stop service in late May to Iceland, and on July 7 to Paris. At the same time, both Icelandair and Air France have returned to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with their own non-stops to Reykjavik and Paris. Delta has also resumed operation of one daily non-stop between the Twin Cities and Amsterdam, though during normal times the carrier flies three times each day. KLM has not yet returned to MSP with its daily flight, but that can’t be too far off.
For the first time since early last year, TSA at MSP airport has reported more than 30,000 travelers clearing security in a single day on several occasions. Overall, the airport saw more than two million travelers in May, with that level certain to continue growing in the coming months. Boardings at the airport were 62% of pre-pandemic levels in the same month, while a year ago in May of 2020, boardings were just 8% of the previous year.
The number of flights continues to grow month-over-month, too. June departures for all airlines combined saw 404 flights, July has 421 daily scheduled flights, and August is projected to further increase to at least 432 flights each day at MSP. Additionally, Delta is utilizing larger aircraft than in the past on many high demand routes, including Boeing 767 wide-bodies on some domestic legs, as well as Airbus A321s and additional Boeing 757s.
As a reminder, Federal regulations still dictate the wearing of masks inside all airline terminals and aboard aircraft. This requirement currently is in place, unless changed, until at least mid-September.