(Bloomberg) -- United Airlines Holdings Inc. is planning its largest expansion into Europe, anticipating a surge of pent-up demand following two years of weak bookings because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The significant trans-Atlantic capacity increase reflects the airline’s expectation that next summer will deliver record traffic. Flights essentially shut down industrywide in 2020 and capacity was limited last year because of widespread border closures, including a U.S. ban on European leisure travelers. The Biden administration has said that vaccinated air passengers from the region could enter the country starting in November.
Among the new routes, United is adding five destinations starting in May and June: Amman, Jordan; Bergen, Norway; Azores, Portugal; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. None of those locations is served by North American carriers, United said.
The company declined to discuss whether 52 grounded Boeing Co. 777-200s with Pratt & Whitney engines will be part of the summer plans. The wide-body jets have been unavailable since February when a 777-200 engine failed on takeoff from Denver, scattering debris across a residential area. U.S. regulators subsequently mandated fan-blade inspections and changes to the Pratt engines’ cowlings.
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