International flights are already 75% booked for the summer, Delta says

Versie Dortch

If you plan to travel overseas this summer, you might want to book your flights soon.

International flights for this summer are rapidly filling up. Roughly three-quarters of overseas seats on Delta Air Lines have already sold for the busy summer travel season, according to executives at the airline.

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“We’re growing our international seats by more than 20% in the June quarter compared to the prior year, and we already have about 75% of our bookings on hand,” Delta president Glen Hauenstein said during a conference call with analysts Thursday. “On transatlantic, we’re seeing strong demand on our largest-ever summer schedule.”

The Atlanta-based carrier expects its total capacity to be a few percentage points below 2019 levels, CEO Ed Bastian said. This means fewer overall seats will be available on various routes. Nevertheless, capacity for the second quarter will grow 17% compared to 2022.

Related: The FAA has a plan to reduce delays at New York airports this summer — here’s what it means for travelers

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A significant amount of that growth comes from international travel, Hauenstein said, which has been hit hardest and for a prolonged period during the pandemic. The airline plans to increase its international capacity by 20% compared to last year while growing its domestic seats by only a few percentage points, in the “mid-single digits.”

The large number of international bookings points to a lengthening booking curve. Wary of the high prices and poor availability of flights and hotels last summer, vacationers are making plans further in advance to ensure they lock everything down. The strong demand also reflects greater confidence among consumers in traveling overseas as pandemic travel restrictions shrink in the rearview mirror.

“2023 is off to a strong start for Delta with record [numbers of] advance bookings,” Bastian said. “We’re committed to delivering the level of service our customers expect as we ramp operations for the coming summer season.”

Delta posted a wider-than-expected loss of $363 million for the first quarter, largely due to one-time accounting for a new compensation deal with its pilots’ union. Adjusted for the contract with pilots and other one-time expenses, the airline would have earned $163 million. The first quarter is typically weak for airlines, which enjoy boosts in demand during spring, summer and holiday travel periods.

Travelers who haven’t booked summer vacations yet may find increasingly limited options if this trend continues across other airlines in the coming weeks. Many of the cheapest fares are likely booked already, and reduced availability could mean fewer choices.

There’s still time to book, though. Stay tuned to TPG for the latest flight and hotel deals, as well as everything you need to know about traveling this summer.

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