Delta Air Lines was hoping to restart flights next month from New York to Athens and Lisbon, two popular summer destinations, but it may have to wait a little longer.
European Union countries are considering barring Americans as the union reopens its borders next week, dealing another blow to Delta and other airlines hoping to revive their business when travel typically peaks across the Atlantic Ocean.
International flights make up a minority of flights for U.S. airlines but are typically much more profitable than domestic ones. And flights to and from Europe are generally the most important. U.S. and European airlines had reduced the number of available seats on flights connecting the two markets by about 75 percent next month compared to last July, according to the aviation data provider OAG. And a travel ban could lead to even deeper cuts.
“It’s a huge deal,” said John Grant, a senior analyst at OAG. “It is by far the jewel in the crown for many major airline networks, in terms of both revenue and profitability.”
Last year, flights across the Atlantic, to Europe and other destinations, accounted for about 17 percent of passenger revenue for United Airlines, or about $7.4 billion. Such flights generated about 15 percent of all passenger revenue for Delta, or $6.4 billion; and about 11 percent of passenger revenue, or $4.6 billion, for American Airlines. They were particularly important to United and Delta, generating a quarter of passenger profits last year, according to the Transportation Department.