Airline executives said they are starting to see a path out of the coronavirus pandemic as more passengers resume travel, following a weekend when airport volumes hit their highest levels in a year.
Delta Air Lines Inc. bookings began picking up five or six weeks ago as people have begun making plans for spring and summer, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said at an industry conference Monday.
“We’ve seen some glimmers of hope over the last year, but they’ve been false hope,” Mr. Bastian said. “But this seems like it’s real.”
Airline stocks climbed Monday. Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc. rose 8.3%, while shares of American Airlines Group Inc. climbed 7.7% and Delta shares rose 2.3%.
The pandemic brought travel to a near halt last spring. Travel restrictions and fear of infection kept people at home and out of airports for most of the year: U.S. airlines carried 60% fewer passengers in 2020 than in 2019, bringing passenger traffic to the lowest level since the mid-1980s, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.