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    Virus variant batters airline bookings for Labor Day weekend


    After a surge in bookings early this summer, U.S. airline passengers are planning fewer trips as the spread of the coronavirus delta variant continues to discourage travel.

    Spending for the Labor Day holiday was down 16% from 2019 as of Aug. 21, while bookings were off 15%, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. The weekend typically marks the end of stepped-up summer travel for U.S. carriers and demand often rises as families seek to squeeze in a last trip before school resumes.

    Adobe’s findings line up with recent warnings from airlines saying that increased illnesses tied to the variant are slowing sales and prompting customers to cancel reservations, threatening to derail a recovery from last year’s collapse in demand. Southwest Airlines Co. has said the weakness may make it difficult to turn a third-quarter profit. American Airlines Group Inc. said August revenue is coming in below its expectations.

    “We expect spend in the month of August to be significantly under July,” Vivek Pandya, Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, said in a statement Monday. “These two months historically have similar spend levels.”

    U.S. airlines fell Monday after Reuters reported that the European Union may reinstate coronavirus-related travel restrictions on unvaccinated U.S. citizens and travelers from five other countries. A Standard & Poor’s Index of nine U.S. carriers dropped 2.3% at 11:06 a.m. in New York, led by a 3.5% slide for SkyWest Inc. Other travel industry shares also dropped.

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