Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Transatlantic Flights Approaching Pre-Pandemic Levels

More than 15,000 transatlantic flights are scheduled to depart Europe for the United States in May, just 240 fewer than the same month in 2019

by Fergus Cole

May 16, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Josue Isai Ramos / Unsplash

Recent data from Cirium reveals a significant rebound in transatlantic travel, as the number of flights from Europe to the United States is poised to reach an impressive 99 percent of pre-pandemic levels in May.

With 15,171 U.S.-bound flights scheduled to take off this month, the aviation industry is bouncing back from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Comparing the figures to May 2019, the last pre-pandemic May, there is only a marginal decrease of 240 flights. However, when contrasted against the same month in 2021, this year’s transatlantic flight numbers demonstrate a remarkable increase of 15 percent and a staggering 305 percent surge compared to the height of the pandemic.

The revelation of these figures comes just days after the U.S. finally removed its COVID-related entry restrictions, including the requirement for incoming foreign travelers to show proof of vaccination. Moreover, most of Europe has been free of restrictions for months, so demand for transatlantic travel will only increase.

Photo: Courtesy of Robert Hrovat / Unsplash

Much of the recent growth in U.S.-bound transatlantic flights seems to be coming from the U.K., with 4,414 flights scheduled to depart from there to the United States this month, accounting for around 1.1 million seats. This is also 99 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with 4,456 transatlantic flights departing the U.K. in May 2019 and 493 percent higher than the number of U.K.-U.S. flights in May 2021.

In terms of airports, most U.K.-U.S. flights this month are scheduled to take off from London Heathrow (LHR), with 86 percent of scheduled services departing from the U.K.’s primary hub.

Around 6 percent of flights will depart from London Gatwick Airport (LGW), while Manchester Airport (MAN) and Edinburgh Airport (EDI) are set to contribute 3 percent of flights each.

Regarding U.S. airports, New York-JFK is the most popular destination for Europe-based flights, followed by Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Washington Dulles, and Boston Logan.

Photo: British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Courtesy of Arkin Si / Unsplash.

British Airways is the dominant airline in the transatlantic market, with the U.K. flag carrier scheduled to operate 31 percent of all U.K.-U.S. flights in May 2023. This is followed by American Airlines and United Airlines with 18 percent each, Virgin Atlantic with 16 percent, and Delta Air Lines with 10 percent. In addition, German flag carrier Lufthansa is also scheduled to operate a significant number of transatlantic flights from other European cities this month.

However, while the number of flights crossing the Atlantic shows that the aviation industry is making a solid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, other data suggest that there is still a way to go before the market exceeds pre-pandemic levels. For example, just over 4 million seats are available on flights from Europe to the U.S. this month, around 93 percent of the 4.3 million seats available in May 2019.