WTM 2010: Airlines to increase US capacity for 2011

Flight capacity between the UK and the US is set to grow next year, according to British Airways network planning manager Jon Perry.

He predicted an increase of 11% year on year for winter 2010, with extra seats available through US carriers and BA.

Perry said BA had a raft of plans to increase seats, including a new daily non-stop service to San Diego, increased frequency of flights to New York, the introduction of a new Boeing 777 300 ER to the North Atlantic, and the reintroduction of a second B747 back into service.

However, he pointed out that the increase was from a low base, and that capacity levels will only reach the highs seen in 2007 and 2008 by winter 2012.

Abta chairman and Advantage Travel Centres chief executive John McEwan attributed a drop in Advantage’s sales to Florida this summer to capacity cuts, alongside the struggling UK economy.

Although more seats will be available next year, fares will be higher due to rising fuel costs, an increase in Air Passenger Duty and the $14 Esta US visa charge, brought in on September 8. A family of four will now pay £275 in APD and Esta charges for flights to the US.

McEwan said these charges, plus heightened security measures, could prove to be potential barriers to travel. However, with sterling strengthening against the dollar, he said he looked forward to 2011 with cautious optimism for the US market.

Advantage sales to the US were up for 2011 year on year, by 10% to Florida and by 20% to New York.

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