United Airlines plans to offer more flights across the Atlantic this summer than in 2019, a bet that international travel will rebound strongly
United said on Tuesday it would increase transatlantic passenger capacity by 25% over pre-pandemic levels to a combination of new destinations and old favorites such as London.
Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of the airline’s international network, said it was the biggest transatlantic increase in United’s history.
“We will be the largest transatlantic carrier,” he said.
Later this week, United will begin flying to several new destinations it named last fall, including the Azores in Portugal and the Canary Islands in Spain. The company is also adding flights – for example, increasing to 22 daily flights from the US to London at the end of May.
Even before Tuesday’s announcement, United had planned more passenger capacity to Europe in June and July than its closest rivals – 15% more than Delta Air Lines and 36% more than American Airlines, according to data from the research company Cirium. Each carrier also has partner European airlines.
United’s annual revenue from flights between the United States and Europe rose from $7.4 billion before the pandemic to $2.2 billion in 2020. It rose slightly to 3, $4 billion last year, or 14% of total revenue.
United was the first major airline to require. The company said 99.7% of its approximately 67,000 employees complied with the mandate. But 232 workers have not taken the vaccine and are now at risk of being laid off, United CEO Scott Kirby told CBS Mornings in October.
Ongoing travel delay blamed on testing requirement
United’s growth plans come with risk as international flights have lagged behind the resumption of domestic travel. Airlines attribute this largely to a US requirement that travelers must test negative for COVID-19 within a day of boarding a US-bound flight. Some Americans don’t want to risk being stranded abroad for several more days if they contract the virus while traveling.
“The testing requirement is preventing many people from taking trips that might otherwise have been taken,” said Scott Keyes, flight expert and founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a website that finds deals on airfares. for its members,CBS MoneyWatch.
Carri Chan, a professor of decisions, risk and operations at Columbia Business School, agreed that the testing requirement has been a bigger barrier to travel than the old mask mandate. US airlines have made mask-wearing optional for passengers and employees following an April 18 judge’s ruling that,
“Certainly for international flights returning to the United States, there are people who are concerned about the financial ramifications of not being able to return if they test positive,”CBS MoneyWatch in March. She also said the lifting of COVID-19 precautions could dampen travel demand from families with young children, who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite intense airline lobbying, the Biden administration has given no indication of lifting the testing requirement.
United had to scale back its summer plans – delaying three new routes – due to a shortage of pilots and the grounding of dozens of Boeing 777s after the Pratt & Whitney engine in one of them failed. exploded over Denver in February 2021.
Quayle saiddoes not appear to be affecting bookings to Europe – something other airline executives have also said. United does not serve Russia, Ukraine or neighboring countries. Its nearest destination is Dubrovnik, Croatia. Quayle, however, said there could be “a bit” of weakness for connecting flights to Poland or Romania.