We speak to Doug Yakel from San Francisco International Airport about pent-up travel demand, the future of business travel, and how federal assistance in the US has been vital to the aviation industry

San Francisco International Airport is ready to cope with any passenger increase as the leisure market in the United States continues to bounce back from Covid: that was the message from the airport’s Public Information Officer Doug Yakel, who spoke to us via video link about the current state of the aviation industry in America.

“I feel good about where our airport’s level of preparation and where we stand in terms of passenger activity starting to recover, and I think the industry itself is well poised to recapture some of the activity levels that we saw prior to the pandemic,” said Yakel. “One of the things that makes airports and airlines ready to accept more passengers is that the federal assistance that’s been provided to airports and airlines required that those companies retain their workforce in order to be eligible for those funds.”

Citing ongoing dialogue between airports, airlines and government as critical to the sector’s future, Yakel also spoke about the strong pent-up demand for travel in the United States, with travel to Mexico from San Francisco – and elsewhere in California – already proving popular. However, he struck a cautious note. “We think it will take several years to get back to pre-pandemic passenger levels,” he said. “Business travel will lag behind and there’s been a lot of talk about that. We think it will return but it will take longer than the leisure market.”

Watch the video above for the full interview.