A prediction made by nearly everyone in the airline industry is coming true now: Transatlantic travel is returning.
Each day brings a new announcement. This morning, for instance, United Airlines said it will add five new flights to London by spring, bring its total to 22 daily London departures. “London was the most booked international destination for United’s business customers in October,” the carrier said.
On Wednesday, Emirates Airline, the world’s largest international airline, said it will hire more than 6,000 people over the next six months after seeing a 30% increase in search volume for travel this winter.
Travelport, a London-based global distribution system, said Thursday that in the last month, U.S. bookings have been at 70% of pre-pandemic levels, with international travel accounting for 52% of the bookings. The most popular departure date for U.S. bound international travel is Nov. 8, the day that a travel ban will end for most international visitors who show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test.
Both Delta and United have announced major schedule increases this month, including transatlantic increases. Perhaps the biggest surprise, besides United’s recommitment to a route between Boston Logan and London Heathrow, both hubs for other carriers, is that American has not made any route announcements. United is the number four carrier at Boston Logan.
American will announce its summer 2022 schedule in the next two months, spokesman Matt Miller said Thursday. The carrier wants to first set up its Boeing 787 delivery schedule.
“Continued delivery delays with Boeing 787 aircraft provide unique challenges in planning international flying months in advance,” American said in a prepared statement. “We’re working closely with our partners at Boeing to plan for outstanding deliveries in the coming months and how they’ll best fit into our schedule
“Year-to-date we’ve added 29 new international flights to our schedule,” the carrier said. “Our network planning team is hard at work building a summer schedule that will connect customers with the destinations most important to them. We expect to have more to share about our summer international flying schedule before the end of the year.”
On Wednesday, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC that the resumption of 787 deliveries depends on the Federal Aviation Administration. In a statement, the agency said that it “continues to engage with Boeing as the company works to demonstrate the reliability of its proposed method for inspecting certain undelivered 787 airplanes.”
Still, the Delta earnings call on Oct. 13 and the United call on Oct. 20 on Oct. 13 were infused with optimism for the restart of transatlantic travel. On the Delta call, responding to an analyst’s question about international travel, CEO Ed Bastian declared, “There’s going to be a mad rush for those that want to travel, that need to travel to get out and travel.
“You’re going to see particularly for Europe which is the biggest part of our international base, spring, summer next year that look very much like the spring summer we’ve just been through here in the U.S.,” Bastian declared.
This month, Delta has announced service increases at Boston Logan, where it became the largest carrier by departures, and for New York LGA and JFK, where it will have a combined 400 daily departures. In December, Delta will be adding flights from JFK, will it will operate up to 15 daily departures to 13 transatlantic destinations. Paris and London Heathrow departures will double to twice daily: Dublin, Frankfurt, Lagos and Tel Aviv will all get new or increased service.
However, it is United that has taken the lead on adding transatlantic service Its London announcement on Thursday follows an Oct. 14 announcement that United will add eight new transatlantic routes. Besides Boston-London, they include a series of secondary market selections that show vast confidence in passengers’ desire to seek exotic destinations after being cooped up due to the pandemic.
From Dulles, United will serve Amman, Jordan. From Newark, United fly to the Azores in Portugal, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands in Spain, and Bergen, Norway. Also, Denver will get a Munich flight, Chicago will get Milan and Dulles will get Berlin.
On the United call, CEO CEO Scott Kirby said, “We expect the Atlantic and the Pacific to significantly outperform the domestic market for many years to come.”