United adds new trans-Atlantic flights for summer 2023 in bet on travel recovery

United Airlines Boeing 777ER. Plane for Leonardo da Vinci airport in Fiumicino.

Massimo Insabato | Mondadori Wallet | Getty Images

United Airlines predicts another big increase in the transatlantic travel schedule, in a bet that consumers will continue to shell out for international trips, some of which have been postponed for years.

Next summer, United says it will fly to 37 cities in Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East, a total it says is more than all other US airlines combined. It will also bring back destinations, including a nonstop flight from its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Stockholm on a Boeing 757 on May 27. It last served this city in 2019.

Airline executives recently reported a strong summer for travel to Europe in particular. United said demand increased by 20% compared to 2019 during the summer peak. Ticket sales were strong in the fall, prompting some carriers to maintain more off-peak flights to chase that income.

Despite strong demand and revenue from high fares, airlines have been crippled by a series of challenges this summer, such as aircraft delivery delays and shortages, and chaos due to staff shortages in major European hubs like London and Amsterdam, which has prompted airlines to border capacity.

“This is a schedule that we believe we can deliver,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network planning and alliances at United, told reporters. He said the carrier is working closely with airports and other industry members to ensure there are no overruns.

Inflation, a slower rebound in business travel and other issues are still weighing on demand for 2023. Heathrow Airport in London warned tuesday travel demand is “uncertain”.

When demand was lower during the pandemic, United experimented with its roadmap, proposing destinations such as Palma de Mallorca in Spain and Ponta Delgada in the Azores in Portugal. These flights are returning although service to Bergen, Norway has not made the cut for 2023.

United said Wednesday it will begin flights May 25 between San Francisco and Rome on a 777-200ER, as part of the carrier’s big investment in service to Italy. On the same day, it will begin seasonal service to Shannon, Ireland from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on a Boeing 757 and daily flights to Barcelona from Chicago on a 787 Dreamliner.

It will also offer flights from Washington Dulles International Airport to Berlin on a Boeing 767, starting May 25. The carrier plans to operate 23 daily flights to London Heathrow next summer.

On March 25, United will launch service between Newark and Dubai on a Boeing 777-200ER, flights announced last month as part of a new partnership with Emirates.

Delta Airlines is also accelerating service to Europe for next spring and summer, increasing its transatlantic capacity by 8% from 2022.

Its additions include nonstop service from Geneva, more services to London and a resumption of daily flights to Berlin, all from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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