Already, airlines are rubbing their hands. With the reopening of the borders of the United States, Monday, November 8, it is the rush of passengers, even if the door is for the moment open for only 32 countries and reserved for visitors doubly vaccinated and tested. Search engines and online booking sites are under attack. Kayak has noted a 552% increase in the number of requests for flights to the United States since authorities announced the lifting of the quarantine. According to the site, it is even 126% compared to the same period in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This scramble at the gate is the honey of the airlines. Air France has observed a “Significant increase in bookings from the first announcement of the (…) reopening of borders ”, in October. For the company, this “First push” was followed by “A continuation of reservations” as soon as the American authorities have fixed a precise date, after nineteen months of closure. To cope with this influx, she resolved “To increase its capacities”. On November 8, the first day of the removal of barriers, she made fifteen transatlantic flights. All were “Full or almost full”. For New York alone, it carried 1,500 passengers, and 4,200 in total to its three US destinations.
Air France is not the only one with a smile. Other French companies such as Air Caraïbes and La Compagnie also took advantage of the windfall. The reopening of the American borders is ” A very good news. There is undoubtedly a boost effect. For New York, we are selling three times more than three weeks ago ”, says Marc Rochet, president of Air Caraïbes. Nevertheless, “If there is a real demand, there is no explosion either”, he nuances. Aircraft fill rate has passed “At 80%, while it did not exceed 56% to 60%” when only American passengers could circulate.
Nevertheless, the unblocking of the American sky constitutes “A real relief” for La Compagnie which, before the health crisis, only operated business class flights between Paris and New York. Like its competitors, Christian Vernet, its president, welcomes a “Influx of passengers”. According to him, “Reservations have tripled and the flights for the week are full”.
A major strategic and financial issue
Better, this improvement could last. The Company reports that its flights are already full “At 80% in November and [que] the forecasts are excellent for December ”. Air Caraïbes makes the same observation, announcing “Flights very well underway for Christmas”. Air France, for its part, is preparing to reopen its route to Seattle on December 6.
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