Why more airlines offer direct flights
While the pandemic doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon, the appetite for travel is strong. According to a new study by Destination Analysts, 68.2% of Americans plan or hope to travel in the near future and airlines are more than ready to meet the demand by offering more direct flights to globetrotters.
The emergence of more direct flights is a trend that sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights are following closely.
“The biggest trend is the increase in flights to leisure destinations, whether domestic or foreign,” said Robert Feinberg, marketing expert at Cheap flights from Scott. “(In mid-October) United announced 10 new routes for this winter to vacation destinations like Aspen, the Bahamas, Las Vegas and Costa Rica.”
Many of these flights come from large hubs like San Francisco or Chicago, but airlines have also added more direct flights for vacationers from smaller airports who may not have had nonstop service to these destinations in the past. Feinberg explained.
“Two of United’s new routes go from Cleveland to Nassau, Bahamas and Indianapolis to Orlando,” he said.
And United is certainly not the only airline rolling out new direct flights. Allegiant Air now offers non-stop service from Des Moines, Iowa, to Portland, Oregon, Houston and San Diego. In April, JetBlue announced new direct routes between Boston and Kansas City, Milwaukee and Asheville, North Carolina.
As Feinberg noted, it’s not just domestic travel that is seeing an increase in new direct routes, it’s also international travel. An airline specializing in direct international flights is Finnair.
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“We already fly direct from Helsinki to New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago,” said Caroline Borawski, Managing Director, North America, Finnair. “This winter season, we are also launching direct flights between Arlanda, Stockholm and Miami (October 23), Los Angeles (November 3) and New York (December 7). In addition to serving North America from Helsinki Airport, we will introduce direct connections from Miami International Airport, Los Angeles Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to the Swedish Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
Finnair is not only rolling out the new direct routes due to increased travel demand as vaccination rates rise (although this is a determining factor), but also because 2020 has been a catastrophic year for air travel.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the entire airline industry and Finnair is no exception,” Borawski said. “Strict travel restrictions imposed by several countries are still affecting our global passenger traffic figures. “
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Finnair envisions a successful rebound in consumer travel, but that won’t happen instantly.
“We previously estimated that our passenger numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels no earlier than 2023,” Borawski said.
But not all traffic is down for Finnair. Cargo flights, for example, are doing well.
“Although there has been a reduction in passenger traffic, the amount of cargo carried by air has remained stable,” Borawski said. “Over the past 1.5 years we have seen Finnair Cargo become an even more vital part of our business. “
In the future, we can expect more airlines to deploy direct routes that did not exist before.
“I think things will continue in much the same cautious manner for the foreseeable future,” Feinberg said. “This Deloitte report on the future of business travel predicted by the end of next year, business travel could still be as low as 65% of 2019 levels while the American Hospitality and Accommodation Association predicts that business spending is not expected to fully recover until 2024 or later. Without these lucrative business travelers, airlines will continue to offer point-to-point leisure routes on the board to see what sticks. “
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Last updated: October 14, 2021