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The airlines’ bet on the rebound in business travel tested by Delta Variant

Airlines are redesigning their route maps, betting that business travelers who largely stayed put last year will return despite new concerns over the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 in the United States. United

Delta Air Lines Inc. is adding flights this fall to business centers such as New York and Boston, while reducing flights on many vacation routes that have become popular over the summer.

“We are pivoting our capacity to now provide more corporate headquarters,” said Joe Esposito, senior vice president of network planning at Delta.

Delta has surveyed corporate clients to make sure it’s at the right time. “We don’t want to install the seats before they fly,” Mr. Esposito said. “We want to put the seats in place when they’re ready to take to the air. ”

Vacation travel typically slows down in late summer, while business travelers hit the road again. How that change plays out this year is a major test for airlines that rely heavily on lucrative business customers.

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