Delta Air Lines' flight from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to Paris is tentatively scheduled to return starting Sept. 8, airport officials said, which is certain to be a relief for the region's business community, which wanted more trans-Atlantic flights before the pandemic.
It's a key market for the region because it allows companies to get to Europe on a nonstop flight.
'Direct trans-Atlantic service is critical for leisure and business travelers for quick and efficient connectivity of our region to the rest of the world,' said CVG CEO Candace McGraw. 'CVG is currently the only airport in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana with planned nonstop trans-Atlantic service in 2021. We look forward to welcoming back travelers on their way to Europe and beyond as global travel returns. I look forward to being able to be on the Paris flight myself.'
The Paris flight was grounded on March 28, 2020, and was originally announced to restart in March, but much of Europe remained closed. France is expected to begin reopening in the next few weeks.
While Delta is selling tickets for the flight, the schedule is tentative based on European travel restrictions and conditions as well as demand levels.
CVG was once the only airport in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana with a Paris flight. Before the pandemic, Delta had begun offering the same route from Indianapolis.
Overall, the airline industry is not expecting international travel to return to previous levels until 2022 or 2023.
The percentage of seats sold on Delta's international flights stands at around 35%, CVG's vice president for external affairs, Bobby Spann, told the airport's board at its last meeting. Europe's reopening will help such flights.
'Hopefully, that will take place in the third quarter,' Spann said of the Paris flight. 'International is going to be the last thing that comes back, it looks like.'
CVG also provided new numbers on travel demand at CVG, with June operating at 79% of 2019 levels so far, and July projected to be at 81%. For the two peak summer travel months, CVG will have nonstop service to 50 destinations on 12 carriers.
Delta is also scheduled to restart service to Baltimore, Dallas, Chicago-O'Hare and Philadelphia on Sept. 8. All four regions are served by other airlines out of CVG currently. Officials also say Delta is selling tickets to Raleigh-Durham starting Sept. 8.
When it comes to the rest of Delta's network at CVG, officials previously projected service to Toronto may return by the fall, with San Francisco, Kansas City, St. Louis and Hartford, Conn., returning in 2022.