Friday, 29 September 2023, 12:47
Malaga Airport will no longer have the direct flight to New York operated by United Airlines since the beginning of June. As planned, on 28 September, this route came to an end, opening a period of uncertainty on the Costa del Sol until the airline decides whether it will repeat the transatlantic route next summer, whether it will do so for a longer period or with more frequencies or whether it will cease to be seasonal.
However, the local and regional authorities and travel professionals are confident that this route will be operational again at least next summer. And everyone hopes that the American airline will announce the consolidation of this connection throughout the year.
The head of sales for United Airlines in Spain, Antonio de Toro, told SUR just after the end of this first summer season in Malaga that "expectations have been exceeded" and stressed that "the air connection has been well received in the American market for the Malaga destination".
These are details that are key to maintaining this direct flight link next summer, as happened in Mallorca and Tenerife, which have enjoyed two high seasons with routes to New York. It would be the logical step to take on the Costa del Sol before consolidating this connection all year round. "The flight with Malaga has managed to recover and bring Andalucía closer to the traveller from the United States," said De Toro.
The Junta de Andalulcía's regional minister of tourism, Arturo Bernal, has expressed to SUR his confidence that United Airlines will continue to connect Malaga with New York: "The feelings are positive. We have had different meetings with the company and that is the impression, but a final decision has not yet been taken". Bernal stressed that "we have all the data in our favour" and pointed out that the number of Americans staying in hotels in Andalucía, with an average stay of five days, was 450,000 in the first half of the year, compared to 371,000 last year, "in other words, we have had an increase of 33%".
Bernal focused on the margin for growth that airlines in this market have in the region. He pointed out that United Airlines was able to transport 17,000 passengers, "which means that the margin for improvement is huge. This is the main argument and we value it in terms of the opportunity to expand the business".
He also added the fact that the aircraft flew with over 85% of their passenger capacity, especially in the business and premium tourist classes, which are the categories that most interest airlines when it comes to scheduling their operations. "This data puts us in a good position to wait for the right decision, which would involve extending the route to the whole year and even increasing the frequency to more than three flights a week," he said.
This first summer the United Airlines had 17,000 seats to connect Malaga Airport with Newark Airport in New York, on 52 return flights operated with a Boeing 757-200 aircraft with capacity for 169 passengers, 16 of them in its Polaris business class.
At the inauguration of this route, the Vice President of Alliances and Planning of United Airlines, Patrick Quayle, could not hide his satisfaction at the start of this journey on the Costa del Sol, which has been linked to the Big Apple with flights of seven and a half hours each way.
"We are very proud to fly to Malaga. We are very happy with the response and the demand that has been generated both in this destination and in the United States," he said after the first United Airlines plane landed at Malaga Airport. He told a waiting reception that he recalled that "with Malaga there are now five destinations to which we fly in Spain and 37 in Europe, being the American airline with the most connections to this continent. It is fundamental to obtain profitability. We have shown that when there is a good return we can expand the offer we are giving. Expectations are very positive. We have identified that there is demand and that it is strong".
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