Top flight bookings for leisure and business travel in 2019
For the first time since the pandemic began, global business and leisure flights have increased to levels not seen since 2019.
That’s according to the third annual travel report from the Mastercard Institute of Economics, titled “Travel 2022: Trends & Transformation,” published yesterday.
After analyzing 37 global markets, the report found that cross-border travel reached pre-pandemic levels in March – a major milestone for a tourism industry that has been dominated by domestic tourism since. from 2020.
Flights are back
Global airline bookings for leisure travel are up 25% from pre-pandemic levels in April, according to the report. That’s driven by the number of short-haul and mid-haul flights, according to the report. higher in April compared with the same period in 2019, according to the report.
Long-haul recreational flights don’t fall too far behind. After starting the year at -75% before the pandemic, an “unprecedented spike” in international flight bookings has brought these flights “just below” 2019 levels in less than three months, according to the report.
Like airlines, global spending on cruises, buses and passenger rail surged earlier this year, with car rentals in March surpassing 2019 levels, according to the report. Mastercard Economics Institute’s 2022 tourism report.
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Commercial flyers, who have been tracking recreational passengers throughout the entire pandemic, are also returning to the skies.
At the end of March, business flight bookings surpassed 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic began, according to the report, marking a major milestone for airlines based on the report. to the company’s “regular” passengers.
The return of business travel has been swift, according to the report, as business flight bookings are only about half of pre-pandemic levels earlier this year.
Delays in Asia
The global upward trajectory comes despite the slow return of air travel in Asia. Flights to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have increased among Asia-Pacific passengers this year, although most of the top international travel destinations are located outside the region.
David Mann, chief economist for Asia Pacific, said: “Among the top destinations Asia Pacific travelers visited in the first quarter of 2022, 50% were from outside the region. region based on our data, where the United States is number one.” Middle East and Africa at the Mastercard Institute of Economics.
“Despite the slow recovery relative to the West,” says Mann, “travelers in Asia Pacific have shown a strong desire to return to tourism in places that have seen liberalization.”
According to the Mastercard Institute of Economics, if flight bookings continue at their current rate, an estimated 1.5 billion more global passengers will fly this year than in 2021, with more than a third of them. from Europe.
Will this continue?
Strong air travel demand and rising global hiring trends are just some of the reasons the global travel industry has “more reason to be optimistic than pessimistic,” according to the report.
Residents have paid off their debt at a “record rate” over the past two years, while wealthier consumers – who “prefer to travel for pleasure” – have benefited from the savings associated with the past two years. related to the pandemic and the rise in asset prices, according to the report.
However, rising inflation, market turmoil, geopolitical issues in Europe and Asia, and rising Covid-19 rates are threatening to derail the strong tourism recovery in 2022.
According to the report, earnings are expected to grow with inflation, but this will happen faster in developing economies.
“While we expect income growth to outpace consumer price growth in Germany and the United States by mid-2023, this likely won’t happen until 2024 and 2025 in Mexico and South Africa, respectively. ,” the report states.
Among the myriad risks that could derail the recovery journey… we would place Covid as the biggest turning factor.
Chief Economist, Mastercard Institute of Economics
Airfares have also increased, with the average fare rising about 18 percent between January and April this year, according to the report.
The cost of air travel varies considerably by region, with fares increasing by 27% in Singapore between April 2019 and April 2022. However, the report says that the prices of flights in the United States are roughly the same. unchanged in the same time frame.
Although many countries have reopened to international visitors, the pandemic still covers the industry.
“Among the many risks that could derail the travel recovery… we would place Covid as the biggest swinging factor,” Mann said.
“While treatments are better and many markets have seen successful vaccine deployments, a serious or contagious variant that necessitates border closures could result,” he said. a return to a non-linear recovery pattern, which has stopped working for the past two years,” he said.
One last summer of hurdles?
Whether tourism demand will remain strong throughout the year – or whether visitors will make it through the final summer before tightening their wallets – remains to be seen.
The report notes that people traditionally spend less on commuting after food and energy costs increase.
“However, given the magnitude of pent-up demand in a post-pandemic world, this timing may be different,” the report states.