American Airlines CEO: There’s Huge Pent-Up Demand For Travel In Coming Months

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American Airlines CEO: There’s Huge Pent-Up Demand For Travel In Coming Months
Image source: CNBC Video Screenshot

Following are excerpts from CNBC interviews with American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) CEO Doug Parker and United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) CEO Scott Kirby on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F 6AM – 9AM ET) today, Thursday, January 20, 2022. Following are links to video on CNBC.com:

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American Airlines CEO: There’s Huge Pent-Up Demand For Travel In Coming Months

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby: Bookings Are Starting To Come Back, Forecast Profit In Q2

Excerpts from American Airlines CEO Doug Parker interview:

Parker On Omicron Impact

DOUG PARKER: It certainly had an impact on the quarter. It had an impact on the quarter, these results would have been better were it not for Omicron, we saw a large increase in cancellations. Our net bookings toward, through the quarter fell from what had been about 80% of 2019 levels to less than 50% at their trough at the at the end of 2020, in the last week of 2020. But those are coming back. We're actually seeing now net bookings back in the 80% level, where they were prior to Omicron so people are, I believe, certainly have gotten to the point where they believe this is going to be behind us before too long and they're having confidence and making travel plans, certainly in the future.

Parker On Outlook And Booking Trends

PARKER: The near-term bookings are still soft, net bookings again we look at because there are still people even cancelling trips they made. But that has gotten better here as we’ve come into January. What looks really quite strong or relatively strong are bookings in the 30-60 day period so that we feel good about. Those numbers again are back above where they were pre Omicron in terms of net bookings, and so I don't know. We still have to see, but it does feel like the consumer has confidence in being able to travel 30 to 60 days out. Well, let's see if that actually manifests itself in actual results. But that's, that's where we are and look what it really says is there's large pent up, well we all know, there's huge pent up demand for travel once everyone feels well enough to travel, and when and again, right now it looks like it's, you know, 30-60 days from now.

Parker On 5G Resolution

PARKER: Look, this hasn't been our finest hour as a country in terms of how we got to this point. But the good news is, people the right people are talking to each other, sharing information now and I feel really confident that as we move forward, we're not going to see issues like this. We now have what should have been going on for a while is now going on. The equipment manufacturers on our side speaking with the telecoms on the other side about exactly what is and is not something that we can deal with safely. We were never going to compromise safety. We just weren't going to have operations, but it was going to be significant. We've avoided it, thanks to the involvement of a lot of people there in the last couple of days to get it done. So, we're thankful for that. And again, I do feel good about the process now where we are with the right people sharing the right information to make sure we don't have this issue in the future.

Parker On Airfare Prices

PARKER: Indeed, our planes are reasonably full, but they're largely subdued due to leisure travelers. Business demand has not come back, has not rebounded nearly as much as leisure demand that will happen. And when that does as business, as people return to work and businesses return to their prior travel patterns or something close to it, what I do believe you'll see is prices go up because there will be fewer seats available for leisure travelers, but right now, you can get some really good deals out there and people are doing so.

Excerpts from United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby interview

Kirby On Omicron Impact And Q2 Profit

SCOTT KIRBY: Well, we don't know for sure what's going to happen with COVID. It goes up and down. But certainly, our current forecasts are if we continue on the trajectory of bookings that we have right now and bookings have started to come back, we certainly bottomed from the Omicron impact, and they're looking stronger, particularly as you get to the end of February and March and beyond. And our forecast is that we'll be profitable in the second quarter. Of course, that depends on Omicron and that could change because there's a lot of uncertainty related to the virus, but our forecast is that we'll be back to profitability in the second quarter.

Kirby On 5G Resolution

KIRBY: Well, I think what's really going to happen is the manufacturers of the altimeters along with the aircraft manufacturers are going to work with the FAA and the telecoms in particular and create essentially a roadmap, a rulebook of how you deploy near airports, what the power levels are, what the intended directions are, and that'll give clarity to all of the telecoms of where they could put them and there will probably be some kind of approval process, but it'll become part of just the routine process around airports for you go through this routine approval process. There's a model that everyone agrees on and understands that doesn't exist today. It does exist in other countries, and it'll exist here. And once we have that, this will just become a routine part of business. It won't have big impacts on aviation and the telecoms will be able to roll out 5G for all of us really everywhere that they need to.

KIRBY: Well, in hindsight, I certainly wish this had been resolved sooner. But the good news is now we are in a position where I think there's a pretty clear roadmap to get this solved or we can have fulsome rollout of 5G for the telecoms without impacting aviation and huge credit and thank you to the administration, Secretary Buttigieg in particular, but also Hans and John, the CEOs of Verizon and AT&T, who agreed to this voluntarily. It would have had catastrophic impacts. The good news is now everyone is working together and, you know, this has been done in 40 other countries. There are some limitations around airports in all those countries. But we can do the same thing here in the United States and successfully rollout a fulsome 5G deployment, it can coexist peacefully with aviation without having significant impact and I'm certain and confident that we're on the road to doing that now.

Kirby On Strong Summer

KIRBY: As a globe and as a society, we are moving into the endemic phase where we live with COVID instead of going into lockdown when COVID happens so again I think we will have a very strong summer as a result.

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Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of ValueWalk.com, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at)valuewalk.com - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver
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