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Oil Markets Optimistic As Air Travel Starts To Recover

·2 min read

The number of global commercial flights has more than doubled since this time last year, while U.S. traveler throughput has jumped six-fold since May 2020, suggesting that global jet fuel demand is starting to lift off.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been screening more than 1 million passengers at American airports every day since the middle of March.

Most recently, 1,850,531 passengers traveled on May 16, up from just 253,807 passengers on the same day last year. Yesterday’s figure is still off the 2,620,276 passengers who boarded airplanes on May 16, 2019, but numbers have been steadily rising in recent weeks.

In addition, the number of commercial flights globally stood at 71,728 on May 16, more than double the 29,843 flights on the same day in 2020, according to data from global flight tracking service Flightradar24. The number is still below the 2019 figure of 119,993 commercial flights, but it is much more than the worst months for air travel in the spring of last year. 

The recovery of global aviation fuel demand is expected to be the slowest among all fuels, and a return to pre-pandemic levels is unlikely at least until 2023, analysts say.

U.S jet fuel demand is rising along with an increase in domestic air travel, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said earlier this month.

However, a full recovery to the pre-pandemic levels would take place when most long-haul flights return, according to analysts.

Since long-distance flights consume more aviation fuel than shorter fights, the reopening of international travel and quarantine-free vacations abroad will be a big boost to jet fuel demand when this happens at some point later this year.

Recently, signs emerged that there could be an opening for the summer holidays. In Europe, the European Commission proposes that the European Union (EU) allow entry for non-essential travel for anyone who has received the last dose of an EU-approved vaccine at least two weeks before arrival.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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