Is Now The Time To Visit Europe?

Despite a broad range of problems, some pandemic induced, travel to Europe has been a popular pursuit this summer. Its popularity will apparently continue into the fall —- very possibly with low fares stimulated by restored airline capacity and the strength of the U.S. dollar.

The “shoulder season,” from September through October has long been considered a good time to travel to Europe because of cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. This year, it may also mean easier navigating at key European airports that were stretched in the summer. The higher capacity extends into late fall, normally the off-season, although questions surround European energy supplies.

For Americans traveling to Europe, the strong dollar and relatively high airline capacity could mean lower fares.

Ticket prices available – in particular for those paying in U.S. dollars,” O’Driscoll said. OAG schedules show that trans-Atlantic capacity published for November and December is slightly higher than it was in 2019.

“United and Delta have both scheduled more capacity on transatlantic routes than they did in 2019, (United 10% more; Delta 6%),” he said. “With many routes to Asia yet to recover, transatlantic markets are the only other outlet for this capacity.” Meanwhile, American’s December schedule, which includes European destinations as well as Doha and Tel Aviv, is in line with 2019, with 0.3% fewer available seat miles. Capacity would be higher, American has said, had BoeingBA
delivered 787s to American on time.

Additionally “Scandinavian airlines SAS and Finnair have been hit hardest by the Russia airspace ban and have redeployed their widebodies to transatlantic routes. SAS have scheduled 20% more seats miles than 2019 and Finnair a whopping 60% more.”

As for currency, he said, “Dollar strength versus the Euro and pound, plus the huge increases of gas and electricity bills Europeans are braced for this winter mean that airline will probably look for to U.S. passengers to fill their planes. With the pound at its weakest level v’s the US$ since 1985, it may well be good time for a transatlantic trip.”

Some of the plusses for Europe travel could be offset by countervailing forces.

“The Euro and British pound are both historically weak against the dollar (which) would normally mean fantastic bargains,” he said. “But now, it basically offsets the inflation, which has been running higher there than in the USA.”

Additionally, with much of Europe facing a falloff in Russian deliveries, “street lamps will be dimmer, shops will be colder and maybe even hotels and Airbnb’s will have less heat,”. “So bring sweaters and warmer clothes.”

“Demand is very strong to Europe. You’re seeing it in our results.

“For the first time in our 96-year history, we’re the largest airline across the Atlantic Ocean,” . “We have a diverse portfolio into our partners’ hubs as well as Africa and the Near East.”

Overall, “We’re seeing a really strong September. It does not appear that summer has come to an end; it’s that strong,”. “Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe – the demand for our product to those places is the same as it was during the summer. There’s historically a drop-off between August and September (but) we’re not seeing that.”

This summer, London Heathrow has been a key chokepoint for transatlantic travelers. Last month, the airport extended its cap on passengers into October. That cap, implemented because of an inadequate supply of airport workers, set a daily limit of 100,000 departing passengers. Amsterdam Schiphol, following suit, has also extended its passenger cap into October, when the limit will be 69,500 passengers.

American Airlines transatlantic revenue has exceeded 2019 levels. Because European countries, unlike the United States, did not extend financial aid to the airline industry, “We were much better prepared than so many places in the world including Europe. It’s just so hard to get back to speed. You can’t flip a switch and have people come back. “

American operations at Heathrow “have stabilized greatly” because the airline isolated its operations in Terminal Three, taking pressure off Terminal Five, where partner British Airways operates. “Take a look at Heathrow,”. “It’s a much different environment than what was reported early this summer.”

Conditions should be better at airports “as traffic weakens and airlines and airports play catch-up. But, the low-fare lines face strikes and that could affect your ability to get around. And staffing is still a problem for customs operations.” He also warned that “ground transit could be iffy due to strikes —rail and bus networks could be disrupted. And car rentals are very expensive and gasoline prices are insane.”

European travelers to fly non-stop when possible and to consider “nesting at your city of arrival” rather than visiting multiple destinations.

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