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Delta’s international bookings soar by 450% ahead of US reopening

Delta Air Lines claimed a 450% increase in international bookings In the six weeks since the US reopening to fully vaccinated travellers from November 8 was announced.

The percentage increase compared with the six weeks prior to the announcement although precise numbers were not disclosed by the US partner to Virgin Atlantic.

Many international flights are expected to operate 100% full on Monday, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks, Delta reported.

Data from analytics firm Cirium shows how airlines are already ramping up for transatlantic travel with a 21% increase in flights between the UK and US scheduled for November over October.

“Although such November 2021 transatlantic flights are still 49% down compared to November 2019, it’s a positive sign that UK/US flights are increasing month-over month,” a spokesperson said.

British Airways leads with 1,697 flights, followed by Virgin Atlantic (634 flights), American Airlines (632), United (400), and Delta (205), according the figures.

Foreign nationals will be permitted to enter the US with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of departure.

The reopening after almost 20 months covers 33 countries including the UK and Ireland, with Delta serving ten of these nonstop and more via its global hubs in collaboration with partners, including Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

The strong demand is reflected across both leisure and business travellers to destinations such as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and Orlando.

The airline will operate a total of 139 flights from 55 international destinations in 38 countries landing in the US on Monday, offering more than 25,000 seats.

As consumer confidence in travel returns, Delta is increasing flights this winter on routes from key European cities including London-Boston, Detroit and New York JFK, Amsterdam-Boston, Dublin-New York JFK, Frankfurt-New York JFK and Munich-Atlanta.

Delta’s hometown base in Atlanta remains its busiest international hub with 56 daily departures to 39 international destinations, followed by New York JFK, which has 28 daily departures to 21 international cities.

The airline reported this summer that its US domestic leisure business has already rebounded to 2019 levels, but ongoing border restrictions have prevented a meaningful recovery across the globe.

International inbound travel to the US contributed $234 billion in export income to the US economy, generated a trade surplus of $51 billion, and directly supported 1.2 million American jobs in 2019.

Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said: “This is the start of a new era for travel and for many people around the world who have not been able to see loved ones for almost two years.

“While we have seen many countries reopen their borders to American visitors over the summer, our international customers have not been able to fly with us or visit the US. All of that changes now.

“We’re grateful to the US government for lifting travel restrictions and are looking forward to reuniting families, friends and colleagues over the coming days and weeks.”

US Travel Association president and chief executive Roger Dow said: “After nearly two years of restrictions, Monday begins in earnest the return of international travel, when long-separated families and friends can safely reunite, travellers can explore this amazing country, and the US is able to reconnect with the global community.

“It is a monumental day for travellers, for the communities and businesses that rely on international visitation, and for the US economy overall.

“US Travel and our members worked tirelessly to press the administration for a safe reopening plan for international travel, and we are eager to welcome these qualified travellers back as we enter the next phase of our industry’s recovery.”

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