“If the only thing that pays for the service is the grant, I don’t think it’s going to last very long,” Mann added. “But if there is enough demand out there, including business and leisure traffic, there is a chance it can continue.”
Mann said he had seen cities where airlines found untapped demand and that St. Louis, which had not had direct flights to Europe since 2003, could be such a place. “Airlines are slaves to their data,” he said. “They can see what has already been stolen and make decisions that way, but sometimes the past data is not good because things have changed.”
The coronavirus pandemic could make it difficult to launch a new service. Some subsidized flights, including the Indianapolis-Paris link, have been suspended since the start of the pandemic.
Business travelers, who Lufthansa relies on for premium seats in its A330s, may take time to revert to their old globetrotting habits. “It’s hard to believe that international business travel will be a big part in 2022,” Mann said.
The Global Business Travel Association predicts that spending on business travel, which fell 54% when the pandemic struck, will not return to its previous level until 2024.