New York airports are getting 11 new long-haul routes as travel returns to the region

Jun 10, 2021

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New York is dead, proclaimed the naysayers during the height of the pandemic.

Airlines were cutting service, restaurants boarded up and many stores closed or went into deep hibernation. But those days are long gone, whether you’re looking at the streets of Manhattan or trying to navigate your way through the departure hall at one of the area’s major airports.

As the New York area’s COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, airlines aren’t just resuming service — many are making good on their pre-pandemic announcements to increase service to the area.

In fact, the region will see four notable new long-haul routes from international airlines, as well as a handful of others from domestic carriers who are both ramping up new and resuming services.

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For the first time since the outset of the pandemic, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the region’s major airports, welcomed a new international carrier to one of its airports. On May 21, Turkish Airlines launched service to Newark, with four-weekly flights to Istanbul (IST) that’ll increase to daily on June 14.

(Photo courtesy of Turkish Airlines)

In addition to Turkish, French Bee — a Bellevigny, France-based budget airline — will start flying to Newark from Paris-Orly (ORY) beginning on July 14. The carrier first scheduled service to commence in 2020, which was later delayed due to the pandemic.

Another France-based carrier, La Compagnie, is in the midst of restarting service to Newark — the airline’s all-business-class jets will once again land at EWR on June 18.

Just a few miles away at New York-JFK, two international airlines are making their grand debuts. Italian carrier Neos, will launch transatlantic service between its home base of Milan and JFK on June 27 with two weekly flights. Later this summer, Air Senegal plans to launch its first U.S. service connecting Dakar with JFK and Washington Dulles (IAD) on Sept. 2 with a triangle route.

The international expansion isn’t limited to foreign-flagged aircraft. JetBlue will make its long-awaited transatlantic debut when flights to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) take off on Aug. 11 from JFK. The New York-based airline will follow up with service to London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) on Sept. 29.

JetBlue’s new Mint biz will fly to London (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

All this growth comes as the competition is heating up in the Northeast. American and JetBlue recently entered into a so-called Northeast Alliance, which includes a slew of new routes to the three largest New York City area airports. As part of the pact, AA’s also expanding internationally, with five new long-haul routes to Athens (ATH), Tel Aviv (TLV), New Delhi (DEL), Santiago (SCL) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG), made possible in part by JetBlue’s domestic connectivity.

Delta quickly responded to the new pact with its own New York-focused expansion, while United and Spirit Airlines are also busy boosting service to the region.

In fact, even New York’s Stewart Airport is getting increased air service with a new Allegiant route to Savannah (SAV).

All this increased air service stands in contrast to a year ago when airlines were quickly pulling out or temporarily suspending service to the area. New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, and its air connectivity was among the hardest hit early last year.

American, Delta and United all significantly pared back their NYC flights. United was down to just 15 daily flights from Newark at the height of the pandemic. Spirit Airlines stopped serving five airports in the Tri-State area: Hartford (BDL) in Connecticut; Newark Liberty (EWR) in New Jersey; and New York LaGuardia (LGA), Niagara Falls (IAG) and Plattsburgh (PBG) in New York.

Since then, strict COVID-19 restrictions in New York, including a domestic travel quarantine requirement, largely kept the area closed to tourists. As vaccinations continue increasing and case numbers plummet, local elected officials have peeled back many of these restrictions, and travelers are returning.

COVID-19 testing center at LGA (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

This year, the Port Authority welcomed an estimated 920,000 passengers to its commercial airports during Memorial Day weekend — far fewer than the two million travelers recorded during the pre-pandemic holiday weekend in 2019, but a sharp increase over the record lows of 2020.

More: American Airlines will reopen Flagship Lounges starting in September

A recent Fortune story citing STR data shows that hotel occupancy rates have ticked up six percentage points to 35% since January. The industry reported its fifth straight monthly increase in average daily room rates, which have risen 12% since December.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city would eliminate the 5.875% hotel room occupancy tax rate for a three-month period, from June 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2021, in a big to help accelerate the tourism recovery.

Though many analysts predict that it’ll take years for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels, airlines are laying the groundwork for the predicted ramp-up, especially to the New York area.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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