By Kelly Yamanouchi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Warren #travel-all
Delta, Qatar Airways brace for post-COVID traffic.
Airlines are adding back flights for this summer as more people are vaccinated and travel rebounds from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delta Air Lines has focused on a number of mountain and beach locations for its added summer flights, since many travelers have been looking for outdoors trips during the pandemic.
The Atlanta-based airline, which like other U.S. carriers operate mostly domestic flights that cross-cross the country, is adding new flights to Montana; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Reno, Nevada; and Fresno, California, near Yosemite National Park.
From Hartsfield-Jackson International, Delta is launching new flights to Bangor, Maine and restarting flights to places in Michigan and South Dakota, as well as Caribbean destinations St. Kitts, Roatan Island, Bonaire and Grand Cayman Island.
More than 1.5 million people passed through airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the most in more than a year.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is preparing to restart flights to Atlanta in June. The carrier said it will operate more flights here and elsewhere in the United States to fill a vacuum left by other carriers that suspended routes.
“We have already increased our market share out of the U.S.,” said Mark Drusch, Qatar’s senior vice president of revenue management, alliances and strategy.
Doha-based Qatar Airways stopped flying its Atlanta-Doha route on March 30 due to the spread of COVID-19. The carrier earlier this year started selling seats for a restart of service June 1 with four flights a week to Atlanta on Airbus A350-900 jets.
Drusch said Qatar “kept flying a substantial portion of our international markets” through the pandemic, giving it a view into where some unmet demand lies. The airline has started new service from San Francisco and Seattle to Doha in the past few months because of demand for travel to and from the United States, he said.
Based in a small country with less area than the state of Connecticut, Qatar Airways is highly dependent on international traffic through its hub in Doha.
“Looking at the travel that is currently still flowing in the global marketplace, we decided it was time to serve Atlanta,” Drusch said. He said bookings on Qatar, which requires masks, have been strong for the first few flights and “solid” for the month of June.
He said he expects the route to be popular among people traveling from Atlanta and connecting through Doha to visit friends or family in the Middle East, Africa, India or Pakistan. He also expects to see international vacationers heading to places like the Maldives, the Seychelles and Zanzibar via Doha. “That’s the traffic we’ve seen primarily out and into the U.S.,” Drusch said.