ECONOMY

Airlines See Robust Demand for Once-Marginal Routes, FT Reports

Airlines have seen boosted demand for once relatively unimportant destinations, allowing them to mitigate some of the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Financial Times published Sunday.

Carriers including British Airways, Air France and United Airlines have all seen the importance of more obscure routes grow since governments hugely restricted international travel to curb the spread of the virus, the paper reported.

Luis Gallego, chief executive of BA owner IAG, told the newspaper that demand for flights to west Africa, Latin America and south Asia had held up more than flights to North America, which has fallen to between 15% and 20% of passenger revenue over the past six months. Air France has reported strong demand for flying to former French dominions, while American carrier United Airlines meanwhile has new long-haul routes to Africa and South Asia, serving the immigrant populations of its hub cities, Chicago and Newark, near New York.

Virgin Atlantic, which has typically focused on U.K. to America flights, has also pivoted to serving diaspora communities. Demand for flights to India, Pakistan and Nigeria from the U.K. had proved particularly resilient, Rikke Christensen, who runs network planning at the airline told the Financial Times.

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