The current lockdown within the UK has seen restrictions implemented on many industries including the travel sector, meaning many flights have had to be removed from schedules by airlines.
In a recent statement, American Airlines have confirmed that they are just one of several airlines operating between the U.S. and the U.K. to have paused their flights, including their London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) routes, stating that demand has dropped dramatically, rendering flights uneconomical to operate.
Passenger service flights between Heathrow and North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) have also been paused until the end of 2020 although cargo flights to Heathrow from JFK and O’Hare will continue uninterrupted.
A statement from the airline confirmed the decision saying, “We’re constantly evaluating our network to match supply and demand and have been making regular schedule adjustments since March. In an effort to match low demand resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19), we continue to operate a reduced schedule.”
Passenger flights between Charlotte Douglas and London Heathrow are expected to restart on January 6 2021 while there is no fixed date as to when flights will recommence from Chicago or JFK.
However passengers who still have to fly to the UK have been encouraged to use the airline’s Joint Business Partner British Airways although this is only for those flying from New York City or Chicago.
It is believed that the move will affect 16 flights to London each week however with the British government confirming that the current lockdown in England, due to end on December 2, potentially needing to be extended, this could rise throughout the month.
Lockdowns are also in operation in countries across Europe however United has said that although San Francisco and New Jersey will see a pause on flights to Munich – and all Amsterdam flights canceled from Chicago – there are no further cancelation announcements on other European cities.
However, flights from Newark to Brussels will be increased from three times a week to five while their flights to Heathrow are continuing to operate as normal.
United are currently working on a scheme that guarantees anyone flying on the Newark-to-Heathrow flight will remain safe from coronavirus. The month-long scheme involves all passengers arriving at Newark airport being tested for the virus – with results received before they are allowed to board the plane – ensuring that anyone who receives a positive test will be refused entry to the plane and placed into isolation.
Once the scheme has completed the results will be discussed with both officials from both the U.K. and the U.S. in an attempt to convince them to allow a ‘travel corridor’ between the two countries to be opened.
The corridor had already been discussed between the two nations during October as both countries see their economies receive a boost from Christmas breaks in December. The aim is to be able to reduce the quarantine periods that are currently set at 14-days.
American and European governments have been encouraged by airlines executives to reduce the travel restrictions that are currently in place in an attempt to keep the airline and travel sectors in business. At the moment America has banned most Europeans from entering the country while any American wanting to visit the UK has to comply with strict quarantine regulations for 14 days. Americans have been banned from the majority of EU countries as they are considered a ‘red country’ due to the high numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.
Airline companies around the world have struggled with the different travel restrictions that have been in place for most of the year, with many laying off their staff, requiring loans or even going bankrupt.
Earlier this month a proposed underwritten public offering of 38.5 million shares by American Airlines was announced. The shares are of the airline’s common stock and are a further attempt to bolster the company’s financial position. At the time of the announcement shares were at $13 each and the airline confirmed they would be utilizing any income from the initiative for corporate purposes. It is believed that the end of the fourth quarter will see over $14.5 billion in available liquidity which will be a slight increase from the e$13.6 billion they ended the third quarter with.
Shares in American Airlines had been valued at around $30 each before the coronavirus pandemic sparked lockdowns in the majority of countries. However by the middle of March they had already dropped to around $10.30 each while they fluctuated between $9.50 and $12 until June when they started to bounce back to just over $20 per share.
However with many destinations seeing their countries impose restrictions again during a second lockdown the share price has remained at around $11 each with a slight increase to $13 after the Pfizer vaccine announcement.