American Airlines sees demand for European travel return to Philadelphia International Airport in summer 2022

For the American Airlines hub in Philadelphia, summer 2022 is starting to look a lot like the days before the summer 2019 pandemic: demand for Europe is expected to return.

“Anyone who hasn’t been to Rome in 2020, in 2021, now they’re really looking forward to going to Rome,” said Brian Znotins, US vice president of network planning. “We expect two years of pent-up demand will all fall in 2022.”

The US restrictions lifted on November 8 on travelers coming from Europe has been a milestone for the travel industry. Philadelphia International Airport – the transatlantic gateway for American Airlines – did not see an immediate spike in European routes as fall and winter are traditionally a slower time of year for airlines. transatlantic travel. But PHL will see even more overseas routes added next year.

“In the summer of 2022, we’ll have a slew of long-haul flights to Europe from Philadelphia, much like we did in 2019,” Znotins said.

So far, the airline plans to add PHL routes to Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid and Rome in March. American, PHL’s dominant airline, will announce more schedules in the coming weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdown orders canceled the travel request from mid-March 2020. PHL suffered a further blow over the next six months as it failed to gain federal approval to accept transatlantic flights.

Even after this issue was resolved, as of mid-September 2020, US entry restrictions for passengers from most European countries remained in place until this month. Many American travelers were also reluctant to plan their trip to Europe.

Through it all, Philadelphia will remain the transatlantic gateway to the United States “for the foreseeable future,” Znotins said. This is because of the geography of Philadelphia – well positioned for flights to Europe – and because of the infrastructure that is available to Americans at PHL.

“The infrastructure and our schedule there allows us to bring 60 flights, 70 flights, all at the same time, from all over the country, so they can all connect to that flight from Dublin or the one from Frankfurt.” , Znotins mentioned.

American does not have the same capacity, say, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

“If we add JFK flights to Europe, some fear it will be in place of Philadelphia, but it really isn’t,” Znotins said. “It’s up to us to pick up these local New York passengers, who have a lot of non-stop options from New York to Europe.”

American’s current quieter schedule between PHL and Europe is no indicator of what to expect next year.

“Winter is not usually a time of high travel demand, so we’re not looking to add tons of capacity this winter in Europe,” Znotins said. American is currently flying to London Heathrow Airport from Philadelphia and will add flights to Zurich and Dublin next month.

As the schedule grows, American faces another challenge: delays in the delivery of new Boeing planes, including inspection methods on the new 787s were under the supervision of federal regulators.

“We’re not really going to be able to fly as much as we want to Europe from Philadelphia, or the rest of our system for that matter,” Znotins said. “All of our hubs are going to see a lower level of flight than we would like, and that’s because Boeing hasn’t been able to deliver planes to us.”

This year, American was due to get 14,787 from Boeing – and only received one.

“We are not optimistic that they will also be able to deliver a substantial number of these promised planes in 2022 ahead of the summer season,” Znotins said.

A Boeing spokesperson said the company was carrying out inspections and continued “to engage in detailed and transparent discussions with our regulators, customers and suppliers. We know that this important work has had an impact on our deliveries. While we never want to disappoint or cause delays to our customers, quality and safety always come first.

Without so many of these planes, Znotins said, there will likely be “a lot more demand” than the American can offer in terms of capacity. For travelers, this means “the cheapest seats are going to sell out quickly”.

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