United Airlines lands in Palma de Mallorca – Airways Magazine
DALLAS – On June 3, United Airlines (UA) operated its first route between Newark, NJ (EWR) and Palma de Mallorca (PMI).
In an interesting twist, the traditional water cannon salute was not performed for environmental reasons, but it seemed to be the only piece of protocol that was removed. Passengers who disembarked received local souvenirs containing local salt presented in a locally made textile bag.
This summer, the incumbent carrier diversified and deployed its capacity in secondary cities, some of which had no direct connection to the United States.
Palma in the middle of the pandemic
When visiting Mallorca during the peak of the pandemic in the summer of 2020, I would have been laughed at if I had suggested there would be direct flights from the island to the US within two years. .
At the time, the hospitality industry, which is the mainstay of the economy, was decimated. Most hotels and hospitality venues were closed and many locals relied on government furlough payments to make ends meet.
Palma de Mallorca airport was eerily quiet. Whole sections that would normally be teeming with summer tourists were mothballed and flights often flew with a handful of passengers.
Palma de Mallorca and United
For the cynic, these secondary destinations are just an interim strategy to redeploy excess capacity until UA’s route network realigns with what existed before the pandemic. On the other hand, a Majorcan will not hesitate to tell you that this is a route that should have been established years ago.
The island has long been home to mass tourism. Nowadays, however, the emphasis is once again on quality rather than quantity. Harnessing traffic flows from a major hub served by a reputable global carrier is precisely the intended market.
This new route is, for now, a seasonal offering from UA and runs three times a week until September. Local Mallorcans are hoping strong demand can prompt the carrier to return to the island next year.
United’s international sales director for Spain, Victor Alvarez, was quoted in the Mallorca Daily Bulletin as noting that the new route “exceeds all of our expectations”. He pointed out that load factors for June are averaging 85%, with some flights reaching 100%. In addition to domestic tourism, he also said there was also a good upturn in outbound travel from the island.
The tourist season thrives from April to October and, while there is unlikely to be demand during the winter months, success will be measured by seeing the return of the historic carrier in 2023.
Featured Image: United Airlines N668UA Boeing 767-300(ER). Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways