The Most Lucrative Airline Route in the World is Finally Reopening

Big Ben to Lady Liberty was a $1 billion connection for British Airways, as the UK airline made that much in 2019 flying between London’s Heathrow and New York’s JFK international airports. Then, well… you know what happened.

Today, the route reopens to Europeans, and all US airports are open to international travelers. Airlines are expecting a surge of fully-vaccinated visitors and vacation goers, so expect to hear a little cockney alongside those endangered New York accents once again.

Delta Forced

When the US government announced in September that its borders would soon open to vaccinated travelers from 33 countries — China, Brazil, South Africa, and the UK among them — coronavirus numbers were still in flux in several regions thanks to the driving force that is the Delta variant.

So there was no telling whether demand for intercontinental travel would snap, crackle, or pop. But in the last few weeks, it has become abundantly clear that the world missed America. Airlines — which are collectively set to lose more than $200 billion due to the pandemic — now stand to cash in:

  • International bookings for Delta (the airline, not the variant) have gone up 450% versus the six weeks before the government’s announcement, and the airline expects international flights to be 100% full for several weeks, restoring 75% of its business to pre-pandemic levels.
  • At United — which made 50% of its 2019 revenue from international trips, according to Raymond James analysts — trans-Atlantic bookings for the rest of the year have exceeded 2019 levels, and the airline plans to reinstate 69% of its international schedule by December.

Come Fly With Me: IAG, British Airways’ parent company, said overall booking levels are almost back to 2019 levels, but it still expects to lose $3.5 billion this year. As it ramps up flights to America, BA is planning six trips to JFK from Heathrow every day by December — half of what was offered pre-pandemic. Lest we forget, it will also fly twice a day to Newark, which is great for fans of The Sopranos.

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