Airlines boosting Thanksgiving travel options amid virus resurgence

Airline furloughs leads to massive air travel drop

The expired $25 billion stimulus package is causing airlines to furlough workers and cut flights. FOX Business’ Kristina Partsinevelos with more.

Major U.S. airlines have upped their flight options ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in anticipation of increased demand — a sign of hope for a multi-billion industry still reeling from the coronavirus.

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Despite a rise in cases nationwide, a handful of carriers offered an upbeat forecast about the holiday travel season with United Airlines projecting that the week of Nov. 23 will be its busiest since travel fell to a near standstill earlier this year.

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In response, United says it's adding more than 1,400 domestic flights during the week of Thanksgiving. United will also monitor last minute bookings in the event that the company needs "to swap in larger aircraft" to accommodate for the last-minute demand.

An airline employee walks past empty American Airlines check-in terminals at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Likewise, JetBlue also announced that it was expanding its service to support the anticipated demand this holiday. Between Nov. 20 and Nov. 30, the carrier is adding 25 flights from the New York Metropolitan Area to Florida, California and markets in the Caribbean such as Port-au-Prince, San Juan, Santiago and Santo Domingo.

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American Airlines told FOX Business Monday that the carrier will also increase its flights from Nov. 24- 25 and Nov. 28 – 30.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
UALUNITED AIRLINES HLDG.41.32+6.64+19.15%
AALAMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.13.20+1.74+15.18%
JBLUJETBLUE AIRWAYS15.03+2.68+21.70%
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.36.77+5.35+17.03%

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"During the Thanksgiving holiday, we will increase our flying by approximately 15% compared to the rest of the month, from an average of 3,500 flights to more than 4,000 flights," an American Airlines spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Delta Airlines will also be increasing capacity around the holidays with over 3,800 peak-day flights during Thanksgiving.

The airline will increase service to leisure destinations including cities in Hawaii like Honolulu, Maui, Kona, Lihue,  and destinations in Mexico such as Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. The carrier will also increase its Florida service to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami and Tampa Bay and its service to smaller western cities.

While air travel in the U.S. has recovered slowly in recent months, Monday's announcements provide some hope for airlines that faced billions in losses and were forced to furlough employees just to withstand the pandemic.

"Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen that customers continue to gain confidence in booking travel, in response to expert medical research on the safety of air travel and Delta’s multi-layered approach of cleanliness, space and safer service through the Delta CareStandard," a Delta spokesperson told FOX Business.

Meanwhile, travel-related stocks, such as airlines, rallied on news that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine proved to be 90% effective in the first 94 patients it was tested on.

It's a pivotal development because officials at many airlines believe travel won’t recover until the pandemic is under control and a vaccine is widely available.

Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to FOX Business's request for comment.

FOX Business's Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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