American Airlines Reopens Important Transatlantic Routes

American Airlines Reopens Important Transatlantic Routes

Airlines 2021-10-12
American Airlines is considering the upcoming holiday season and reopening vital transatlantic routes to regain the momentum lost in the last quarter following the resumption of Covid-19 cases.

A month after the cases of Covid-19, the hopes appeared in the industry that passengers would more confidently make new flights.

Financial services firm Raymond James conducted a seven-day analysis of the Transportation Security Administration's average passenger screening data, which showed that while travel demand still lags the end-July peak, it has improved from mid-September low levels.

In an interview, the Chief Executive of Hawaiian Holdings Inc. told Reuters that cancellations have recovered and bookings are abating. "As Thanksgiving and Christmas are close, we have an opportunity for a strong, solid recovery," he added. Bookings have also recovered at Delta Air Lines, suggesting that domestic travel demand next year will exceed 2019 levels.

On Thursday, United Airlines announced it would be operating its most significant domestic flight schedule since the pandemic began, adding more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December - equivalent to 91% of its domestic capacity in 2019.

"That's a lot of pent-up demand," Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a consortium of 290 airlines, expects air carriers in Europe to return next year and bring more profit than their North American counterparts.

The outlook for the industry's cash cow - business travel remains uncertain.

An industry trade group - Airlines for America - estimated that business travel accounted for as much as 50% of airline passenger incomes before the pandemic.

Carriers counted on reopening offices to liven up business travel this fall. However, the Delta variant has forced many large employers to suspend opening offices until next year.

The airlines say recovery is inevitable, but there is no consensus on the terms.

United's Robin Hayes hopes business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, but JetBlue's Chief Executive Officer Kirby thinks it could take several years. According to Hayes, New York-based e-commerce provider reallocated has positioned flights from some business markets to leisure markets.

In an interview, Hayes told Reuters the following:

"The holiday would be intense, which is certainly the same in our forward bookings at the moment."

Meanwhile, airlines are encouraged by the Biden administration's plan to reopen the United States to air travelers from Europe in November. The transatlantic route is one of the most lucrative globally and accounted for up to 17% of 2019 passenger revenue for the big three airline companies.

All U.S. carriers that serve the market have experienced a surge in bookings since the White House made the announcement.

Kirby said United's reservations for transatlantic flights made last week were higher than the same period in 2019. Sales also jumped at JetBlue and Delta Air.

The reopening is not only an opportunity but also a big test for the industry.

The successful reopening of the world's most important long-haul market is expected to create a trend that other markets follow. Re-introducing restrictions, however, could slow the recovery if Covid-19 cases begin to rise again.

Hayes says the restrictions can't reappear where they have disappeared. According to him, it acts as a big dampener to demand.

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