United has announced that it will be increasing the number of flights it offers between the United States and Europe in response to increased demand for travel between the two continents with the resurgence in travel.
The airline is planning to raise trans-Atlantic capacity by 25 % this summer compared with 2019 despite rising fuel prices and the Ukraine crisis. According to Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice president of the international network, it was the airline’s largest single transatlantic increase in history.
Bergen, Norway; Amman, Jordan; the Canary Islands, and Portugal’s Azores are among the new destinations announced by United Airlines. United is adding to its network of flights, including to London, Zurich, Munich, Milan, and Nice, France.
Also, United delayed three new routes — because of a pilot shortage. The airline has been in a protracted contract dispute with its pilots. The pilots have been working without a contract since their last one expired at the end of 2012. The union has been in contract negotiations with the airline for more than two years and has been without a contract since the last one expired at the end of 2012.
Residual effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to create some reluctance for international travelers. The US now requires a negative Covid test for all passengers traveling from Europe. “We are still in the midst of a pandemic, which has resulted in significant travel restrictions and reduced demand,” Quayle said. But as more people are vaccinated and case numbers fall in the US and Europe, the airline sees a “pent-up demand for travel.” “We are encouraged by the progress being made in the vaccination efforts in the U.S. and Europe,” Quayle said, “and we are hopeful that travel will continue to rebound as we approach the summer.”
Given these difficulties, Quayle says there has been no decrease in demand. However, he noted that there could impact demand for United’s partner Lufthansa’s flights to towns further east in nations like Poland and Romania. United is also seeing “strong” demand for more expensive products like its Polaris business class and premium economy class for trans-Atlantic flights.