Airline notes: Philly gets OK for overseas flights; Southwest, United eye leisure destinations for Covid-weary travelers

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Transatlantic flights are now allowed to resume at Philadelphia International Airport following five months of restrictions on processing inbound passengers from Europe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that travelers from restricted countries will no longer have to go through enhanced health screenings and temperature checks at designated airports.

The policy change marks the end of restrictions that went into place in March, when the crisis prompted the federal government to restrict international flights to 15 select airports in the United States.

PHL was not designated as a screening or “funneling” airport, and was forced to end flights to top European destinations. The pathway for a resumption of transatlantic travel will have a significant impact on the region’s business, industry and tourism sectors, an airport release stated.

Airport CEO Chellie Cameron acknowledged the support and advocacy efforts of the regional business community.

Pre-Covid-19, the international transatlantic travel demand that passed through the airport generated approximately $2 billion to the local economy per year. The international service was a factor in DuPont, Corteva keeping their headquarters in Delaware.

The big question is whether the designation will lead to meaningful passenger traffic. Americans are banned from non-essential travel in many nations, due to Covid-19

Airlines eye leisure destinations

Airlines have been in a funk, but that does not mean that carriers are not eyeing new opportunities.

Southwest Airlines, a big carrier that is arguably in the best financial shape, is adding leisure destinations.

The airline is adding Miami and Palm Springs, CA to its route map for winter leisure travelers. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it announced winter flights to the Colorado ski mecca of Steamboat Springs from Denver.

It is not yet known where nonstop flights to the two cities will originate, although Baltimore-Washington, a popular airport for Delaware travelers, is a possibility for Miami.

Until at least the end of October, Southwest flights will run at two-thirds capacity with the middle seat remaining open.

Southwest this rolled out a fare designed to fill some seats now and after the holidays.

Anyone buying a ticket between now and Thursday for travel through Nov 15 can bring along a friend free of charge on a flight from Jan 6 through Feb. 28.

The legal stuff is on Southwest.com.

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Southwest is not alone in seeking out spots that might appeal to leisure travelers.

United Airlines plans to add service to Cancun and Hawaii, on the bet that travelers will be itching for a leisure trip.

Closer to home, Frontier Airlines is shooting for a 2021 launch for service from Wilmington-New Castle airport to the popular leisure destination of Orlando. Three-day-a-week flights had been slated to get underway in May.

A bigger concern over the short term comes from plans by American Airlines to lay off 1,900 workers later this year at its Philadelphia hub.

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