Airline executives question whether the borders are still closed

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330neo or A330-900 aircraft with the neo-engine option of the European aircraft manufacturer, as seen in the final approach for landing at Amsterdam Schiphol AMS EHAM International Airport after a long-distance transatlantic flight.

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Hoping to take a European holiday this summer? You may not be lucky.

Borders in much of Europe have been closed to most US citizens and vice versa for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Airline executives said on Thursday they did not expect it to open in time for the peak summer season.

Tourism industry leaders have pressured the Biden administration for a plan to reopen borders, including standards for medical documentation, such as proof of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said in a quarterly call that the company is focusing on lifting restrictions that have hindered travel between the US and the UK, but that other popular tourist destinations could take longer.

The White House did not comment immediately.

This week, the UK eased its lock restrictions, allowing pubs, hairdressers and retail stores to reopen. France and Italy, on the other hand, reinstated temporary blockades last month to reduce new Covid-19 infections, and vaccine distribution has been slow across Europe.

“When you think of other parts of Europe, there may be occasional markets open this summer based on recreational traffic in the southern Mediterranean that people will be interested in,” Bastian said in the appeal. “But I don’t think you’ll see that continental Europe will be significantly open until later in the year. Unfortunately, we’ll probably miss much of the summer for most of continental Europe.”

Delta and rivals such as American Airlines and United Airlines have said that domestic travel has suddenly returned from the depths of the pandemic, but international travel, which still faces a network of entry restrictions and a vaccination gap, remains weak.

Delta said Thursday that its domestic passenger revenue fell 66 percent to $ 2.3 billion in the first quarter from the same period in 2019, but transatlantic revenue was 87 percent lower at $ 142 million. while the trans-Pacific fell 89% to $ 62 million.

Naples, Italy, vs. Naples, Florida

US carriers have reoriented their once-expanded global networks to domestic destinations, especially those that offer outdoor attractions such as beaches and mountains. Airlines have added services to tourist spots in Florida, Wyoming and Montana. They also saw increases in demand for beach destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

American Airlines on Wednesday, for example, announced that it will bring its domestic summer schedule to almost the same levels as in 2019.

Brian Znotins, vice president of planning for American Airlines, told CNBC that the demand for European summer vacations will be difficult to generate even if the borders open next season.

“Usually, a European holiday is planned months in advance,” he said. “So people today, if they want to make a trip this summer, which is a lot of people, they don’t feel very confident about booking a trip to Rome, so they will make that reservation at Jackson Hole or Honolulu or Cancun. “

“Do not expect to see the request appear only the day after the opening of a country, especially in terms of leisure,” he said.