As Europe Reopens, United Airlines Expects A Record 2022

Europe has gradually been reopening for Americans. Whether with vaccination or testing requirements, United has been able to…

As Europe Reopens, United Airlines Expects A Record 2022

Europe has gradually been reopening for Americans. Whether with vaccination or testing requirements, United has been able to fly more people across the Atlantic than it has since early 2020. However, the travel ban for Europeans coming to the United States lingers. With the recovery continuing in earnest and hope for European travel bans to come down, United Airlines is eyeing 2022, and it thinks it could be one of the best seasons ever.

United Airlines sees a lot of promise for Europe in 2022. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

United looks to summer 2022

Speaking on the carrier’s second-quarter earnings call, Andrew Nocella, Chief Commercial Officer at United Airlines, stated the following on Europe:

“Our European schedule this summer is quickly ramping back up. However, with continued restrictions on Europeans from entering the U.S. and on U.S. travelers from entering key countries in Europe, including the U.K., we anticipate that it’ll be the spring of 2022 prior to resuming a normal schedule.”

2022 will be the year when United can get back to business in Europe. President Biden has maintained the travel bans barring foreign nationals who were physically in Europe from coming to the United States. The restrictions do not apply to American citizens returning from Europe.

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While United is flying some very full planes over to Europe, loads back to the United States are thinner due to the travel bans. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

United is pushing for a relaxing of travel bans across the Atlantic. CEO Scott Kirby opened the earnings call with these remarks:

“And while the U.S. isn’t yet open to Europeans, the data and science, including the demonstrated safety of air travel, similar vaccination and case rates, and similar level of variants in Europe and the U.S., support an opening and we expect that to happen at some point. And when the borders do, we expect to see the same robust, hockey-stick increase in demand that we’ve already seen domestically.”

The key for 2022: pent-up demand

United has seen the trends from 2021. When a country reopens, Americans have rushed to book, and the same could play out when the US reopens for Europeans. Assuming a reopening of nonessential travel for Europeans to America, United expects a strong 2022. As Mr. Nocella stated:

“We expect our summer Atlantic load factors to be around 70% in 2021, 16 points lower than 2019, we have to add that we think the summer of 2022 across the Atlantic has the potential to be our best season ever, with pent-up demand and easing border restrictions.”

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United’s bullish outlook in the international market is one reason why the carrier has kept its widebody fleet intact. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

A 70% transatlantic load factor is quite respectable, considering the ongoing travel restrictions and the fact that United is flying some large equipment, including the Boeing 787-10, across the pond.

Still, many Americans have lost out on a summer of European travel in 2021 just because of the uncertainty. United certainly saw early bookings in April for flights to Greece, Croatia, and Iceland. And, in many reopened markets, some leisure travelers may also be getting priced out because of the reduced capacity across the Atlantic, the increased demand for travel to Europe, and the delay in reopening certain markets.

United will have the option to increase capacity in the market

United Airlines will have 30 more widebodies in its fleet at the start of next summer than it had entering the crisis. If Americans choose to fly to Europe over trips they would have traditionally done to closed markets or to go to a place they have not been to in, quite literally, years, United Airlines is sitting on the requisite aircraft to add more flying to Europe.

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The factors are coming together to give United its best transatlantic summer in 2022, but some factors are still outside of United’s control. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

United has been bullish about its international prospects. This is particularly true in Europe, where some of the competition and capacity that previously flew across the Atlantic will no longer be flying. This means more customers will become available to United Airlines and perhaps give the airline back some pricing power in the market.

Altogether, United Airlines thinks it has a lot to look forward to in Europe in 2022.

Are you going to fly United to Europe in 2022? What do you think about United’s outlook? Let us know in the comments!

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Hello Air New Zealand – Australia’s New No 1 International Airline

Air New Zealand is emerging as the dominant player in Australia’s international aviation market. In May 2021, the…

Hello Air New Zealand – Australia’s New No 1 International Airline

Air New Zealand is emerging as the dominant player in Australia’s international aviation market. In May 2021, the Auckland-based airline had a 49% share of that market, more than double its nearest rival, Qantas. Air New Zealand benefited from the opening of a two-way travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia in April and its longstanding trans-Tasman network depth

Air New Zealand owned Australia’s international aviation market in May. Photo: Getty Images

Australia’s Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) released May 2021 international passenger and airline statistics on Wednesday. 214,246 passengers moved through Australia’s international airports in May 2021. 104,980 (or 49%) of those 214,246 passengers flew on Air New Zealand flights.

By way of comparison, 3,208,000 passengers moved through the same Australian airports in May 2019. In May 2020, just 52 989 passengers flew in and out of Australia. The recent uptick in passenger traffic is primarily due to a travel corridor between Australia and New Zealand opening in mid-April.

The two key beneficiaries of that travel corridor were Air New Zealand and Qantas. The Australian airline had a 22.6% share of the international aviation market in May. In third place was Jetstar, Qantas’ low-cost subsidiary airline. Jetstar had a 6.7% market share in May.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787 jet lands in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images

Air New Zealand reaps the benefits of commitment and network depth

Air New Zealand’s domination of the trans-Tasman market and its current status as Australia’s number one international airline is largely due to its extensive trans-Tasman network and ongoing commitment to it.

In contrast, Qantas and Jetstar axed virtually all of its trans-Tasman (and wider international) flying in March 2020. Qantas began restoring some trans-Tasman flights late in 2020 in response to a one-way travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia. Qantas ramped up its flights and Jetstar joined the fray in April when the two-way travel corridor commenced.

Like the All Blacks running amuck in a Bledisloe Cup, Air New Zealand’s run of good fortune in Australia is likely to continue through to the still-to-be released June Australian international traffic figures. But by mid-June, the New Zealand – Australia travel corridor began to wobble. By mid-July, it is largely in tatters.

While Kiwis can still fly into Australia and skip the 14-day quarantine, New Zealand has paused quarantine-free flights from three Australian states, including New South Wales and Victoria, home to Australia’s two biggest cities.

Qantas was the runner-up airline to Air New Zealand in May. Photo: Getty Images

Can Air New Zealand hang on to the crown?

Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Jetstar have wound back trans-Tasman flights as a result. Even so, Air New Zealand’s network depth in Australia continues to give it an edge. For example, Air New Zealand flies between its Auckland (AKL) home port and the Australian state capitals of Adelaide (ADL), Hobart (BHA), and Perth (PER). New Zealand is currently allowing in travelers from these three cities without quarantining. None of these cities are huge Air New Zealand markets but they are handy markets and neither Qantas or Jetstar fly these routes. The only quarantine-free market all three airlines are currently flying on is between Queensland and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines (5.7%) and Qatar Airways (3.9%) round out the five airlines dominating Australia’s international aviation market in May. Twelve months ago, Qatar Airways was the King of Australia’s international skies. But as Qatar Airways can now attest, the crown comes and the crown goes. The question is, how long can Air New Zealand hang onto the prize?

Simple Flying has approached Air New Zealand for their response to the latest BITRE statistics.

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