A traveler walks through the corridors of Terminal 2 of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport with Air France planes in the background amid an air traffic controllers’ strike September 16, 2022, on the northeast outskirts of Paris.
Julien DeRosa | AFP | Getty Images
Flights to Europe will be plentiful this summer. Cheap flight? Not as much.
Airlines scheduled a nearly record-breaking 51,000 flights from the US to Europe from June to August, according to flight data company Cirium. The number of planned seats is the highest since 2018.
Despite this increase in capacity across the Atlantic, fares are rising sharply as airlines test travelers’ appetites to travel abroad. According to Hopper, round-trip flights from the US to Europe cost an average of US$1,032, up 35% year-on-year and 24% more than 2019. The average domestic fare in the US, on the other hand, is up 15% year-on-year to US$286. Dollar down a round trip, roughly in line with pre-pandemic levels.
Executives of long-standing operators of European services like deltanewbies like JetBlueand budget newcomers like Norse Atlantic Airways and Play are all betting travelers will pay for more international travel while the worst of Covid – and the travel restrictions it brings – is in the rear-view mirror.
Airlines and airports are vying to fill jobs hoping to avoid last summer’s chaos.
“European travel definitely picked up last summer,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a late March interview with CNBC. “I think a lot of people just didn’t fly last year, and now they want to fly this year.”
JetBlue flies to London’s two main airports from New York and Boston and plans to begin flying to Paris from New York in June. It is planned to start service to Amsterdam this summer.
Delta plans to offer a record number of seats from the US to Europe, up 20% from last summer. The airline will serve 69 markets in Europe, a spokesman said.
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Airline summer flights to Europe
“If you’re traveling in the peak summer months, you need to book now,” said Hayley Berg, Hopper’s chief economist.
To avoid the highest fares, she recommended avoiding national holidays and flying during the weekdays.
Some airline executives have recently noted that travelers are reverting to more traditional booking patterns, which drives up prices on peak days. While airlines typically reduce capacity at less popular times of the week or year, there may still be an opportunity for cheaper fares. Airlines’ flight schedules from late March to late October show they will offer record numbers of seats for the period, data from OAG shows, a sign they could expect robust demand in the off-season.
Berg also recommends staying open-minded about connecting flights and warning against filtering flights for non-stop flights only.
Icelandic low-cost airline Play’s flights land at its home airport of Reykjavik, so travelers going to other destinations will have to change flights. The airline has grown rapidly with its fleet of Airbus A320 and A320neos. It will fly to 39 destinations this month, up from 31 in December, the company said.
“We are extremely positive and optimistic about the year,” said CEO Birgir Jonsson. Almost 36% of Play’s passengers had connecting flights to other destinations via the Icelandic capital last month, according to the airline.
Other low-cost airlines are expanding flights between the US and Europe, including Norse Atlantic Airways, which operates Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The airline serves London Gatwick, Berlin, Paris and Oslo (Norway) and plans to begin flights to Rome from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport next month. In addition, there are plans to offer services to London Gatwick from numerous US cities including San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Los Angeles and Washington, DC in the coming weeks
Philip Allport, Norse Atlantic’s senior vice president of communications, said fares on routes between the US and Europe have been higher than usual but the airline is still at the “cheaper end of our direct competitors”. A round trip on the Norse between New York and Paris cost nearly $1,300 for a trip departing July 1 and returning a week later, less than $1,804 on Delta, each with Standard Economy tickets .
Here is how traditional and non-traditional airlines differ in their services and prices for standard economy tickets:
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