Customers of American Airlines are saying that they are looking forward to a holiday, as well as a reunion with friends and relatives in Greece and the United States, the American Airlines vice president of sales and distribution in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Tom Lattig, tells Kathimerini in an interview.
Lattig estimates that the demand for travel will increase further and says he is excited that his airline is returning to Athens with three direct daily routes from the United States.
He also says he is confident about the recovery of the travel industry in the medium term and even notes that in some of the company’s international short-distance markets, from the US to Mexico and Latin America, American Airlines is already seeing bookings exceeding 2019 levels.
What is the capacity in terms of available seats that you are planning for Greece this summer?
American Airlines is looking forward to reconnecting Greece and the United States this summer. Starting June, American will operate two daily flights from Athens (ATH), increasing to three daily flights from mid-August until the end of October. From June 4, American will launch new summer service between Athens (ATH) and New York (JFK), as part of our new strategic alliance with JetBlue. The route will be operated on Boeing 777-200 aircraft, featuring 36 Flagship Business seats, 24 Premium Economy seats and 212 seats in the main cabin. Also beginning June 4, American will restart summer service from ATH to Chicago (ORD), operated on Boeing 787-8 aircraft, featuring 20 Flagship Business seats, 28 Premium Economy seats and 186 seats in the main cabin. Finally, from August 17, American will restart service between ATH and Philadelphia (PHL). This route will be operated on Boeing 787-8 aircraft.
Do you have plans to further increase this capacity if the trends support such a move?
We are constantly evaluating our network to match customer demand, market conditions and competitor movements. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve put an even higher priority on building a schedule based on what customers tell us they want and need. We are hearing from our customers that they are looking forward to traveling again. We’re looking forward to the summer and our return to Athens, and most importantly welcoming our customers back safely.
Are the present bookings trends for Greece favorable?
While we cannot share specific data relating to our bookings for competitive reasons, we are excited about returning to Athens.
Do you expect demand for vacations in Greece to increase further this year?
We are looking forward to welcoming back our customers when they are ready to fly. We know there is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel, and we’ve seen that when restrictions are lifted in tourist destinations bookings are quick to return. We are hearing from our customers that they are looking forward to vacations, and also reuniting with friends and relatives in Greece and the United States.
When do you expect that international travel will rebound to 2019 levels?
There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel, from the leisure traveler in particular. In some of our short-haul international markets from the US to Mexico and Latin America, we are already seeing booking levels surpassing those of 2019. To summarize though, American will be here for when our customers are ready to fly – and we’ll be even better positioned to succeed than we were prior to the pandemic. And we will do so by taking care of our team, our customers and our company.
What type of aircraft will you be using for these long-haul journeys?
American is pleased to have the youngest fleet of any US carrier. We will be using a combination of wide-body aircraft from ATH. As per your first question, we will operate ATH-JFK on Boeing 777-200 aircraft, and ATH-ORD/PHL on Boeing 787-8 aircraft. Regardless of aircraft, the safety of our customers and team when they travel American, both on the ground and in the air is paramount. Our aircraft use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which refresh cabin air every two to four minutes and filter out more than 99% of the particles that cause Covid-19. In addition, American’s Clean Commitment is designed to take care of our customers and team and includes enhanced cleaning and sanitation, and partnerships with leading health and safety institutions for guidance on health matters. In fact, American’s robust health and safety measures has earned STAR certification from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for our entire fleet of aircraft, and all of our Admirals Club lounges. For more information please click here.
Is demand coming from American nationals or do you see Greek Americans living in the States as your main customers?
We see both! We see positive demand from Greek Americans living in the US looking to reunite with their loved ones in their homeland of Greece. Likewise, Greece has long been a popular leisure destination for American tourists looking to enjoy the beautiful scenery, culture, history, food and traditions of mainland Greece and the Greek islands.
Are there plans for connecting flights from Athens to other destinations in the wider region?
Our expansive hub network enables customers to reach hundreds of destinations across North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Canada and beyond. From Chicago we offer fights to 145 destinations, and from Philadelphia we serve 100 destinations. In addition, American’s new alliance with JetBlue means that customers traveling on our new service from ATH to JFK can enjoy enhanced connectivity and access to the biggest network in the Northeast. Between American and JetBlue we serve 84 destinations.
For customers wishing to travel around Europe and the UK, our Transatlantic Joint Business partners British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, offer fantastic service and connectivity from their hubs in London Heathrow (LHR), Dublin (DUB) and Madrid (MAD) respectively.
Can you elaborate on the importance of cruise passengers as customers on your flights?
The cruise segment is hugely important for American. We know the cruise industry has been deeply impacted by the pandemic as have the airlines. Cruise vacationers want to get back to cruising and there is a lot of pent-up demand as well. Greece has historically been a wonderful cruising destination, indeed there is no better way to see the Greek islands than on a cruise, due to the warm turquoise waters, stunning scenery and of course the culture and history of this beautiful region.
Who do you consider your main competition for travels for flights to Greece? Delta, Emirates, Turkish or another party?
We have lots of competitors and that makes us better. American can offer our customers unrivaled connectivity throughout the US which offers tremendous benefits to our customers.
American expects to fly more than 90% of its domestic seat capacity compared to summer 2019 and 80% of its international seat capacity compared to 2019. This is a real advantage for American’s customers, as our sizable network reduces the number of connections customers need to make when traveling from the US to Greece and vice versa. We are going to focus on providing the best care and service to all our customers and can’t wait to welcome them back on American’s flights to Greece.