Travel news: Routes to USA open up

New links from regional airports - but Tyneside travellers are disappointed
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The Independent Travel

British airports outside London are set for their best summer ever in terms of transatlantic links - but travellers from Newcastle will have to wait a while longer for their promised New York connection.

The first non-stop scheduled link between Tyneside and New York JFK was announced last July by American Airlines. The service was due to begin next week. But the airline, which is the largest in the world, has axed the route even before it starts, blaming "continued high jet fuel prices and economic conditions in the US airline industry".

Passengers who have already booked have been offered alternative routes - usually involving flying via Heathrow and changing planes there - or a refund.

John Parkin, the airport's chief executive, said that he was "hugely disappointed" by the cancellation, but described it as a "temporary setback to Newcastle's plans to become a much-needed transatlantic gateway for the North-east".

American's other UK expansion plans are going ahead. Next Tuesday, the summer-only service between Glasgow and Chicago resumes; this offers connections to cities across the southern and western US. And Continental Airlines is stepping up its services from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Newark, its East Coast hub, with twice-daily services on several days each week. From Belfast and Bristol, the present five weekly flights are upgraded to daily, while Manchester goes twice daily.

One reason for the expansion in services from the UK is that US carriers are switching resources from loss-making domestic services to international links. This summer, demand among British travellers for US flights has been strong, feeding through to high fares. Prices to Florida, California and other popular destinations are particularly high during the school holidays in England and Wales.

One lower-cost option is on Icelandair via Reykjavik. For years, the airline has offered flights to a range of US destinations from Heathrow and Glasgow via its hub. Now, travellers from Manchester can benefit thanks to a new link from the city to the Icelandic capital.