Flight bookings to the United States skyrocketed following the “much-anticipated” reopening of the transatlantic corridor on Monday.
Bookings on Virgin Atlantic on Monday evening increased by more than 600% compared to a week earlier, with New York accounting for most of the bookings, the airline said.
Interest in the carrier’s leisure destinations also soared, with Orlando bookings up elevenfold, Miami up ninefold and Las Vegas up eightfold, according to the airline.
“Following the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions, we’ve seen demand increase to many of our global destinations, but the USA has always been our heartland,” Virgin Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen said in a statement.
On Monday, the U.S. announced that foreigners can fly into the country if they have vaccination proof and a negative COVID-19 test starting this November. The move marked a major easing of pandemic travel restrictions and will effectively replace a hodgepodge of restrictions that had barred non-citizens who had been in Europe, much of Asia and certain other countries in the prior 14 days from entering the U.S.
US TO REQUIRE FOREIGN TRAVELERS TO BE VACCINATED, LIFTING 14-DAY QUARANTINE
The policy will allow families and others who have been separated by the travel restrictions for 18 months to plan for long-awaited reunifications and allow foreigners with work permits to get back to their jobs in the U.S.
Under the new policies, announced by White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, foreign travelers flying to the U.S. will still have to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight.
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Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.
British Airways, owned by IAG, told FOX Business that it saw an increase of around 900% in searches for flights and package holidays to key U.S. destinations for the days leading up to Christmas compared to a week ago. Likewise, searches for flights to the U.S. around Thanksgiving increased almost 2,000%.
Alongside IAG, major European companies such as Lufthansa and Air France-KLM also stand to benefit from the changes in addition to major U.S. carriers such as American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, according to Reuters.
“The transatlantic market is a key profit generator for the main European legacy airline groups,” said Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska, according to the outlet.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.