As leisure travel returns to 2019 levels, the airline networks formulated to serve a wide spectrum of passengers have fundamentally changed. Notably, there has been a significant rise in point-to-point service as well as service shifts to more leisure-focused markets. These trends can be clearly seen in a state-by-state comparison of air service planned for this summer compared to the summer of 2019, as shown in Figure 2. Montana, for example, has seen over a 13% growth in flights and 17% growth in seats projected for this summer compared to 2019, while South Dakota and South Carolina are projecting growth of over 13% in number of flights and seats.
With the reduction in business travel and other regional travel restrictions, it is now possible for new airlines to enter previously highly constrained or slot-controlled airports that could not provide space for growth by competitors prior to the pandemic.