Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.’s U.S. bookings surged more than 600% overnight Monday from a week earlier after the Biden administration moved to allow most fully vaccinated foreigners to fly there again.
New York saw the biggest surge in demand, the U.K. airline said Tuesday, while leisure destinations also performed well. Sales to Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas soared.
British Airways said its vacation division saw an almost 700% increase in searches week-on-week to destinations including Los Angeles and Boston.
The shares of European airlines and other travel-related companies gained for a second day following the U.S. decision. British Airways’ parent IAG SA led the way with a 7% advance after an 11% gain Monday. Deutsche Lufthansa AG rose as much as 5% and Air France-KLM as much as 3.8%.
Airline stocks were buoyed by suggestions that the U.S. will allow in people inoculated with a range of Covid-19 shots. Officials told Bloomberg that the Centers for Disease Control currently considers people fully vaccinated when they have received a full course of a jabs listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. That would include those from AstraZeneca Plc and Chinese developers Sinopharm Group and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Liberum said in a note that the news from Washington will boost carriers that have seen their most profitable market largely closed for 18 months, identifying IAG, normally the No. 1 North Atlantic operator, as “the biggest beneficiary.”
The corridor connecting the U.S. and Europe was the most profitable corner of the aviation market before the coronavirus crisis, a hotspot for those paying extra for first- and business-class seats. European flag carriers are far more reliant on those routes than their U.S. counterparts, which have extensive, profitable domestic networks to fall back on.
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have lobbied forcefully for a relaxation of travel curbs throughout the pandemic, and particularly after vaccine rollouts gathered pace earlier this year. While the European Union and the U.K. began allowing in inoculated Americans over the summer, the Biden administration had held off on reciprocating.