American Airlines that restarted its services to and from India is seeing two-month long forward bookings already, said a top official. The American carrier’s inaugural non-stop New York-Delhi flight landed on Saturday with over 92 per cent Passenger Load Factor (PLF).

Speaking to BusinessLine , Tom Lattig, Managing Director, EMEA, Sales at American Airlines, said that bookings on the inaugural flight were “way above the expectations.” He explained that at least 280 seats out of 304 seats were full on the inaugural.

Globally, airlines are evaluating their network and resizing their operations to mitigate losses. When asked what was the rationale behind restarting operations after a decade, Lattig said, “With the border restrictions being lifted for Indians travelling to the US now, tourists too, will be allowed again into India, so this is a good time for us.”

Lessons learnt

He added, “Taking lessons from other markets where we operate post the easing of restrictions, we noticed an incredible pent up demand, and that has translated into enormous surges in our booking levels and we’ve certainly seen that in India so far.”

Back in the US, the recovery in operations was picking pace and the domestic market had recovered swiftly to pre-pandemic levels. American Airlines too is operating close to 90 per cent of the capacity domestically.

“We are really encouraged so far with the bookings. We have bookings for two months from now and the PLF for them is almost 75 per cent of the entire capacity already,” he said. Given the phenomenal response, American Airlines will also soon start its flights between Seattle-Bengaluru as and when corporate travel soars.

When asked which were the other Indian destinations that American Airlines thinks would be a good fit for its network, he said that while there were no immediate plans, Mumbai is a market the airlines would be “interested” in. “Certainly as we look at the market, that’s another major city that we’d like to operate from,” he said.

Rise in jet fuel price

American Airlines and IndiGo recently also announced a code-share agreement.

Speaking about the challenge that airlines are facing globally regarding the rise in jet fuel prices, he said that in order to protect margins, airline ticket costs could be increased but limited to how much a customer is willing to pay. “We will try our best to pass on the cost to the customer but if it results in a lot higher prices that customers aren’t willing to pay, then we’re going to have to keep our prices down,” he said.