Cowen’s Becker on airline industry: ‘we should have a pretty good summer’

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on Jul 6, 2021
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  • Airport screenings topped 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
  • Cowen's Helane Becker discusses the state of the airline industry on CNBC's "Squawk Box".
  • United Airlines Holdings Inc to increase the number of aircraft in the next five years.

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The U.S. airports screened more passengers over the last weekend than they did in the comparable period of 2019, marking the first time that airport screenings topped 2019 levels since the start of the pandemic.

Helane Becker’s comments on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

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Despite a laudable increase in air traffic, business and international travel hasn’t recovered yet, leaving Cowen’s analyst Helane Becker questioning if the momentum will sustain after the peak season (summer). On CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, she said:

“We’ve seen about as good as it’s going to get without more international and business traffic coming back. The fact that we’re above pre-pandemic on some days just means, one, that domestic leisure traffic is very strong.; and two, a lot of people who might have gone to Europe this summer are staying domestic. So, we should have a pretty good summer. Whether there’s legs to it or not after the labour day is another question.”

According to Becker, international is going to take until 2022 to resume, but business travel is likely to start recovering slightly after the labour day as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease on the back of vaccine rollouts and people return to work. In the meantime, she expects domestic to take the stage.

United Airlines to increase the number of aircraft

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Last week, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL) announced a sizable spending plan and said it would increase the number of aircraft in the next five years. Commenting on that, Becker said:

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“United Airlines has a relatively old fleet. At some point, they had to replace it. We were expecting a $20 to $30 billion CAPEX programme, and they came right in the middle of that. Secondly, the only way to grow Newark and San Francisco airports is by more seats for departure. That means bigger planes. And that’s really what they’re doing here. So, there’s probably a lot of good there.”

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