Spirit, JetBlue report increased travel demand for May

Spirit, JetBlue report increased travel demand for May
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Two U.S. budget airlines signaled an uptick in sales for the month of May, as the airline industry attempts to begin recovering from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Spirit and JetBlue on Thursday reported that they have had more bookings for May than in April, as a number of states begin to ease stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Spirit, known for its no-frills business model, said that it is expecting flights to be between 50 to 59 percent full this month, up from 17 percent in April, USA Today reports.

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"In many cases, what we're simply finding is that people are starting to want to move around a little bit,'' Matt Klein, Spirit's chief commercial officer, said on the company's earnings conference call. "They've put off seeing significant others in other states, and as long as they're traveling in a safe way, we're starting to see that [demand] come back a little bit.''

However Klein cautioned that "in the grand scheme of things" the airline projects revenue for May to be down 90 to 95 percent from a year ago.

In JetBlue's earnings conference call, company president and COO Joanna Geraghty said the airline was starting to experience "some very small improvement in bookings," but acknowledged that "it's too early to tell if it's a permanent change in the trends.''

She added: "We expect to see a small increase in demand as various geographies in our network begin a phased reopening."

Because of the pandemic, JetBlue has slashed its daily number of flights from 1,000 to 100, with its new service to London being postponed due to the virus.

The airline industry was one of the largest beneficiaries of the initial CARES Act, receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in aid from Congress.