American travelers eager to return to Europe this summer don’t have many options because of border closures and other COVID-19 restrictions, but a few destinations are opening to vaccinated visitors.
And U.S. airlines are preparing for pent-up demand for international trips by adding flights.
United Airlines early Monday said it will offer new flights to Croatia, Greece and Iceland beginning in July. The countries are open or soon will be open to fully vaccinated travelers.
Delta Air Lines recently announced plans to begin daily service from Boston to Iceland in May and resume Iceland flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Minneapolis.
And American Airlines in June will add flights from New York to Athens, Greece. Outside Europe, American is starting service from New York and Miami to Israel, another country that will begin welcoming vaccinated travelers in May, starting with tourist groups.
All are in addition to the resumption of select international flights that were canceled during the pandemic and are slowly returning as more Americans are vaccinated, COVID-19 cases shrink in many areas, and restrictions around the globe are eased. Nearly half of U.S. adults have gotten one vaccine dose and 30% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Americans want to travel, and they want to travel abroad,” Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said on the airline’s earnings call Thursday.
Delta and others airlines are also hopeful restriction-free travel will resume between the United States and the United Kingdom as part of a “travel corridor,” but those hopes have been dashed before as talks between the two countries dragged on amid an increase in COVID-19 variants.
“We’re making progress in that regard,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday, adding that it is not clear whether vaccines will be required as part of the proposed travel corridor.
UK loosens COVID-19 lockdown: Three-month lockdown ended April 12
The CDC said this month that Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume travel at low risk to themselves, but the agency is still not recommending travel given rising case counts.
Vaccinated travelers still must abide by a CDC order, issued in January, requiring a negative COVID-19 test to board international flights to the United States, and should get another test three to five days after returning.
United’s new flights to Europe for summer 2021
Here are details on United’s new routes:
Newark, New Jersey-Dubrovnik, Croatia: Flights begin July 8 and will be offered three time a week through Oct. 3. United said it will be the only airline offering nonstop flights between the U.S. and Croatia this summer. American launched nonstop flights between Philadelphia and Dubrovnik in 2019 but suspended them during the pandemic and is not resuming the service this summer.
Washington Dulles-Athens: Daily flights begin July 1 and run through Oct. 1. United also plans to resume flights between Newark and Athens on June 3.
Chicago-Reykjavik, Iceland: Daily flights begin July 1 and will run through Oct. 3. United says it is the first U.S. carrier to offer nonstop service on the route. United will also resume daily flights between Newark and Reykjavik on June 3, with flights operating through Oct. 29.