Airlines and travel agents see increase in demand following 'dark year' of COVID-19

As vaccine numbers increase and COVID-19 case counts decrease more Albertans are booking vacations.

Travel restrictions in many parts of the world are starting to ease and travel agencies are seeing an increase in international and domestic bookings.

Flair Air has purchased new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft as demand for flights increases.

“We are seeing a lot of pent-up demand,” said Garth Lund, Flair’s chief commercial officer. “People really want to get going again, see their family, or take a vacation. So we’re very excited about this summer.

Thirteen new aircraft were purchased by the airline as part of its plan to continue offering affordable air travel to Canadian destinations.

The airline is offering fares as low as $19 on select routes to entice Canadians to venture beyond their local areas.

“This is crucial for our strategy,” Lund added.

One travel agent who spoke with CTV News Edmonton said they have hope that their industry will see demand pick up after a “dark year” for travel agents.

Lesley Paull said many clients are starting to plan trips for fall and 2022, with a few even looking forward to travel plans in 2023.

Many of those who are deciding to travel internationally are planning multi-generational family trips, Paull said.

“Just things that they’ve always wanted to do and have put off and have decided, okay, I’m not putting things off anymore,” she said. “You just never know what’s going to happen. We all now know that.”

According to Paull, many are choosing to travel closer to home.

“Many are travelling around Alberta, B.C., and the Maritimes,” the owner of Paull Travel said. “We just have to be careful of what the lockdown situation is in the province they’re going to, but flights are actually quite full.”

Likewise, the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is seeing a jump in domestic travel.

“We’re also seeing a real big increase on the AMA travel website for hotel bookings within Canada (and) car reservations,” said Roland Vanmeurs, AMA member services associate.

Vanmeurs recommended that anyone planning on travelling in the near future should book early.

“Travel is a big thing and if they haven’t done it for a year, and they’re on year number two we know that once things are back in order again it’s going to get extremely busy.”