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United Airlines plans new flights to Jordan and Europe, betting on the resurgence of international travel

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 13, 2019 in Burlingame, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines plans to add 10 new transatlantic flights in 2022, a rate that has caused American customers to rush to leave the country to visit the Norwegian fjords, Jordanian archaeological sites, or the Canary Islands after international travel has been largely suspended as the Covid pandemic began.

The additions include five new destinations: three weekly flights to Amman, Jordan, from Washington DC on May 5 on a Boeing 787-8 and from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Bergen, Norway on May 5 on flights. Boeing 757-200, Palma de Mallorca in Spain, June 2, and 767-300ER, and Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands, June 9, flight 757-200. Also added daily flights to Ponta Delgada in the Azores of Portugal on May 13 on a Boeing 737 Max.

“We want to get back to making travel fun,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice president of international networks and alliances, during a phone call with reporters.

International travel, and transatlantic travel in particular, has been the backbone of major US carriers, but has been thwarted by the pandemic and attendant travel restrictions that are starting to wane.

United’s transatlantic service brought in just $ 585 million in the second quarter, about 10% of its revenue, up from nearly $ 2.1 billion compared to 2019 when it accounted for 18% of its sales.

United and other carriers have focused on domestic travel, especially beaches and other outdoor destinations, which have proven to be more resilient than international ones, and have surged after vaccines became widely available this spring and cases declined. Delta and American have used some of their largest liners for domestic flights, and international demand has declined.

Carriers have pounced on new destinations in Europe, but executives do not expect demand to return in full until the Biden administration lifts restrictions on US travel from Europe and elsewhere, which it said will be done in early November.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on Wednesday in a quarterly call that bookings had grown sixfold after the Biden administration announced it would replace travel bans with vaccine requirements that would again allow visitors from Europe to the United States.

United is also adding other European routes, including those between Denver and Munich, Chicago and Milan, Washington and Berlin. Routes that had to be delayed during the pandemic will also be launched, for example from San Francisco to Bangalore, India on May 26 and from Newark and Nice, France on April 29.

United will not fly on previous routes from Newark to Manchester, Newark to Glasgow in the UK, and San Francisco to Dublin, Quayle said.

Correction: United’s transatlantic service brought in just $ 585 million in the second quarter, down nearly $ 2.1 billion from 2019. In an earlier version, the year was incorrect.


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