The robust recovery of U.S. domestic travel this summer increasingly looks like more of an outlier than a sign that airline bookings will continue unabated.

Global airlines — and by default the air cargo industry that piggybacks on passenger flights — could face a bumpier recovery from the COVID pandemic than originally thought. Following a robust summer season for domestic U.S. carriers, the delta variant is making people more reluctant to travel by air and could limit travel in the fall, especially among businesspeople.

On Monday, The International Air Cargo Association announced that it is postponing its Executive Summit scheduled for Sept. 21-24 in San Francisco. Event co-organizer Messe München also pulled the plug on the Transport Logistics Americas Forum.

The announcement follows last week’s news that the New York Auto Show scheduled for later this month was canceled. 

“The recent announcement by the U.S. administration that the existing travel ban on people arriving from the UK, EU, China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and other [countries] will not be lifted in the foreseeable future meant that it is impossible to welcome all delegates who have indicated their desire to attend. This is very disappointing news as recent indications were that the ban was anticipated to be lifted soon,” the organizers said.

The rise of the delta variant has also led more countries, especially in Asia, to tighten border controls. 

The mutant COVID strain required more on-site restrictions that would have limited the event’s value, TIACA and Messe München said. The conference would have been the first in two years after last year’s event was canceled because of COVID.

The co-located events have been rescheduled for March 22-25.

“We are confident that the revised dates will provide sufficient additional time for greater numbers of people to be vaccinated and address the current rise in infections,” the groups said.

Meanwhile, Cargo Networks Services, the U.S. division of the International Air Transport Association, is moving ahead with its Partnership Conference scheduled for Aug. 29-31 in Miami. The primary difference is that the vast majority of attendees are from the U.S., whereas TIACA attracts a much bigger international audience.

IATA’s World Cargo Symposium, scheduled for Oct. 12-14 in Istanbul, is still on track.

 Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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