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Delta Air Lines has predicted strong demand for travel during the holiday season but warned there were sign consumers’ travel patterns were returning to pre-pandemic levels following a very busy summer.

“I think we’re seeing some return to a more normal seasonality,” chief executive Ed Bastian told an industry conference on Wednesday.

There was a frenzy for air travel this summer, as consumers unleashed pent-up demand after two years at home. A key issue for airlines is how long that demand trend might last, given challenges including high inflation that are prompting many Americans to redirect spending to necessities such as food and petrol.

So far, strong demand had not yet waned, Bastian said, as leisure travellers booked trips in high numbers during the traditionally off-peak autumn period. That echoed comments made by American Airlines and United Airlines last week.

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“We are expecting a very, very robust demand for the holiday periods for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Bastian said.

He added that business travel would have a “very strong” autumn, but warned that “everybody” was looking for “cracks” in this typically lucrative segment.

The Atlanta-based carrier, the third-largest in the US, would have more transatlantic flights next month than it did in October of 2019 now that international revenue was driving the airline’s recovery.

Delta is betting that US travellers will take advantage of the strong dollar to fly to Europe. About 80 per cent of Delta’s revenue is dollar-denominated, making the currency’s current position “a very strong thing” for the airline.

Bastian predicted a “really good” autumn and winter “for transatlantic [travel] based on US consumer strength”.

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