America’s reopening to international air travelers can’t come soon enough for U.S. and European airlines which have sorely missed the lucrative transatlantic market.
The Biden administration’s decision on Monday to reopen the country to fully-vaccinated air travelers from around the world will allow tens of thousands of passengers to fly to the United States from early November.
For the large traditional European airline players, like British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L), Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA), it represents a chance to recover the transatlantic routes that are key to their profits.
U.S. carriers, American Airlines (AAL.O), United Airlines (UAL.O) and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), will also benefit, although their finances had already been helped by a recovery in the large U.S. domestic market to near pre-pandemic levels.
“The transatlantic market is a key profit generator for the main European legacy airline groups,” said Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska.
Pre-pandemic, in 2019, those routes accounted for more than 26% of IAG’s revenues, Roeska estimates, over 24% of Lufthansa’s and over 16% of Air France-KLM’s. Transatlantic flights accounted for between 11% and 17% of U.S. airlines passenger revenues that year.
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