United is including summer season flights to Iceland, Greece and Croatia in hopes vaccinations will velocity up journey

A United Airlines-operated Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California on January 9, 2013.

David McNew | Getty Images

United Airlines announced Monday that it would add flights to Iceland, Croatia and Greece for the summer in hopes that relaxed immigration regulations will fuel demand for popular travel destinations.

Much of continental Europe remains closed to most US residents, and airline executives were pessimistic last week about what would change in time for the summer vacation.

However, United is picking a few European destinations that have already eased travel restrictions or are expected in the coming weeks.

“It created a pop in search,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president for international networks and alliances.

The airline is adding a flight from Chicago to Reykjavik from July 1 to October 3, after Iceland announced last month that it would allow tourists outside Europe to visit without quarantine if they can provide evidence of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Following the announcement from Iceland, Delta Air Lines said it would resume flights from New York City and Minneapolis to Reykjavik, adding a flight from Boston. United had already announced that they would be flying to Iceland from Newark, New Jersey, from June 3 to October 29.

United will be offering a service from Newark to Dubrovnik, Croatia three times a week from July 8th to October 3rd. In this country, visitors can prove who can show a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination.

Greece announced last month that it would open its borders to vaccinated tourists or those who recently had a negative Covid test result in mid-May. Reuters reported last week that a shift could take place as early as this week.

United plans to add a Washington Dulles to Athens flight, which will operate from July 1 to October 3, in addition to their Newark to Athens flight, which is expected to resume in June. 3.

International service is still unavailable despite the fact that more people are being vaccinated and some travel restrictions have been lifted.

In May, international flights will account for 40% of United’s total capacity, compared to 45% in the same month of 2019. Domestic leisure demand has recovered to near pre-pandemic levels, executives said recently. American Airlines and Delta say they will be putting large planes – usually for long-haul international flights – on popular domestic routes this summer.

An international ray of hope for United was North Latin America such as Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Quayle said. He said he doesn’t expect the rest of Europe to open immediately, although United resumes service from Newark to Milan and Rome and from Chicago to Munich and Amsterdam next month.

“I am very optimistic that the UK and the US can create an airlift between the two countries,” he said.

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