SFO reports international flights returning to pre-pandemic levels

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SAN FRANCISCO INT’L AIRPORT – With San Francisco set to host the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, city officials announced that international travel through SFO is reaching pre-pandemic levels.

According to a statement from the mayor’s office, international travel was at 97% as of August. By the end of this month, international flights from SFO will be back at pre-pandemic levels, with the return of key Chinese carriers.

“San Francisco is open for business and travel, and we are thrilled to see our international travel demand not only return, but continue to increase at this pace,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “With the coming of APEC, we know the eyes of the world will be on San Francisco. Our City is a world-class destination and with these new air carriers, we can now welcome even more people to experience San Francisco.”

Officials said the recovery in international travel is being driven by travelers from the United Kingdom and Europe, along with India. SFO touts that it has more flights to India than other major West Coast cities combined, with 17 nonstop flights a week and a 18th flight coming soon.

Chinese carriers are also returning to SFO. Last week, Air China restored nonstop flights to Beijing after more than three years.

On Friday, China Southern will resume nonstop flights to Wuhan, while China Eastern resumes service to Shanghai on November 29.

Officials said nearly two million international visitors are expected to spend a projected $4.2 billion this year. Meanwhile, international overnight visitation is expected to grow 14.6% compared to last year.

“International travel is a vital part of San Francisco’s tourism industry,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president of SF Travel. “The addition of new airline routes and increased number of international flights, especially those catering to Asian travelers, is a huge step forward in our path to recovery.”

With the number of international flights set to return to pre-pandemic levels, airport officials announced that two more international airlines, Starlux and Porter, are set to launch in December and January respectively. During the pandemic, seven new carriers were introduced, including Air Transat, Breeze, Flair, ITA, Qatar, Vietnam and ZIPAIR.

Mexico and Canada remain the largest source markets for international travelers, officials said.

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