Bookings to the US out of Scotland are being adversely impacted by a lack of flight capacity, according to the boss of Barrhead Travel.
President Jacqueline Dobson made the comments as the high-street travel agency chain enjoys a record year. The agency’s bookings are currently 27% ahead of 2019, with cruise sales performing particularly well, up 69%.
There are currently no scheduled direct transatlantic flights out of Glasgow to the US, with Tui operating the only charter to Orlando. Agents currently have to book clients via other routes, such as via Gatwick, in order to travel to the US.
Dobson said the fact capacity had not been restored to Glasgow post Covid, in particular flights previously flown by Thomas Cook prior to its collapse in 2019 to cities including Las Vegas, was having an impact on sales.
She admitted the increase in prices of flights was also a factor and was “certainly not helping the situation”, but stressed: “The US is not performing as well as 2019. It’s not so much price; there is less capacity.
“Air fares have risen but it’s more to do with the fact capacity is less. No-one has really filled what Cooks had since 2019; they did a lot to Orlando.”
She said the agency group was “having those conversations” with airlines to increase capacity out of Glasgow to the US.
“There are no scheduled direct services to the US from Glasgow. Domestic routes to Gatwick have also reduced so we need to work with the airlines to get flights,” she said.
Despite flight capacity issues, sales for the chain continue to perform strongly, with cost of living crisis not causing any “slowdown” in demand.
Commenting on overall trading Dobson said: “We are really pleased. Coming into this year I was optimistic but cautious with the cost of living news but we’ve not seen any slowdown in demand. Shops are performing well across the board.”