Airlines are offering deals as Europe reopens

June 7, 2021

"Vive les vacances" or "long live holidays" may become the battle cry of U.S. airlines as they lure COVID-19 pandemic weary Americans with trips to Europe. Delta Air Lines (DAL) just announced it will offer nine times as many flights to Paris starting in July although France is opening to tourists this Wednesday.

"The country will welcome vaccinated travelers beginning June 9 without quarantine requirements," according to a Delta press release: "Passengers must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency as well as present a negative COVID test upon arrival (less than 72 hours for a PCR test or less than 48 hours for an antigen test)."

On June 6, a round-trip ticket on Delta from New York's JFK Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, leaving July 2 returning July 9, cost $536 in basic economy and $686 in the main cabin. The extra leg room seats are already sold out. Delta and its partner airlines currently fly to Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Iceland and Spain.

United Airlines (UAL) flies to those destinations too. The same trip to Paris, leaving from Newark International Airport, will cost you $836 in the main cabin. United added flights to Spain back in April and a round-trip flight to Madrid on those July dates would cost you $822 in the main cabin while Delta is selling those tickets for $664.

Flying American Airlines (AAL) to Paris, on those dates from New York, costs $1,200 in the main cabin. But flying from American's Dallas airport hub would only cost $686 in the main cabin. American's main cabin fare from New York to Madrid is $821 but only $671 in basic economy class.

European bookings 'go through the roof'

United CEO Scott Kirby said international travel used to be a third of United's business but most destinations remain closed. "And as they're starting to open, we see huge demand," Kirby told the Annual Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. "Every time another country in Europe opens up, it's Katy bar the door for bookings and they go through the roof, again indicating huge desire for travel," Kirby said.

The CEOs from several major U.S. airlines as well as the chief executives of Heathrow Airport and airline industry group representatives will hold a virtual news conference Monday to push for the removal of travel restrictions between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The United States has barred nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have been in the UK within the last 14 days from entering the country since March 2020. And, most U.S. travelers visiting the UK must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

"Nobody wants to go to Europe to stay in their hotel room for a week or be under quarantine," airline industry analyst Bob Harrell told Yahoo Finance last month.

American Airlines Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja said he hopes to restore international flights, "slowly and cautiously in such a way it can deliver the same kinds of returns that we have been able to bring back in the domestic system." Raja said international travel will always be a part of the airline business model but that after the COVID-19 pandemic it, "is going to be way different than the international that went away in 2019.”

Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live 3pm to 5pm. Follow him on Twitter @Ajshaps

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