LONDON. The head of the IAG, owner of British Airways, said Monday that its transatlantic orders have already reached nearly 100 percent of their 2019 levels after the United States lifted restrictions earlier this month.
Airlines such as BA and Virgin Atlantic have pinned their hopes on opening routes to Europe for United States routes, vital to rebuilding their finances, after more than 18 months of restrictions left with billions of dollars in debt.
Luis Gallego said at the Airlines UK conference that the group was recovering and he expected them to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
“Now that the world is opening up, we are increasing our capabilities,” he said. “Transatlantic orders have already reached almost 100 percent of the 2019 level. I expect the North Atlantic routes to reach full capacity by next summer. “
However, Gallego warned that London Heathrow Airport’s shift towards higher fees could impact recovery, and he noted that 40 percent of passengers who use the airport to transit to other final destinations could use alternative hubs.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) made an initial proposal that Heathrow would be allowed to charge 50 percent more per passenger between 2022 and 2027.
“If there is an increase in landing fees, I know the IAG is not the only one to reconsider our airlines’ use of Heathrow as a port,” he said. “Right now, aviation is trying to get out of the worst crisis in history. UK operators must be able to compete. “