United Airlines CEO says travel won't fully recover until 2023 as business demand lags

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Travel isn’t likely to recover in full from the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic until 2023 as business demand continues to lag, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said Sunday.

Kirby addressed the state of travel on CBS’ "Face the Nation," saying that while the pent-up leisure demand has exceeded 100 percent, business demand is still off by about 60 percent as some borders around the world remain closed.

UNITED AIRLINES PREPARES FOR WINTER TRAVEL, ADDS FLIGHTS TO WARM-WEATHER DESTINATIONS

"We don’t think [travel] really recovers in full until 2023," Kirby said. "Probably next summer will be the biggest year in history for Europe. And Asia is probably another 18 to 24 months away."

The executive stated that while travel has not yet returned to 100 percent, it is certainly headed in the right direction.

"We see a huge desire for people to get back out, reunite with friends and family, connect with the world," Kirby said.

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UALUNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS, INC.50.62-0.48-0.94%

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On Friday, the airline announced that it is adding almost 150 new daily flights to warm weather locations in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America this winter in anticipation of a continued resurgence in demand for travel. 

Last month, United ordered 270 Boeing and Airbus jets, the airline’s largest order ever, and announced that it plans to hire about 25,000 new employees by 2026 and upgrade its fleet for an improved in-flight experience for passengers, FOX Business previously reported.

FOX Business’ Ann Schmidt contributed to this report.

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