International air travel ‘booming’

Busy sky full of planes

A new report from ForwardKeys suggests that, contrary to the wishes of the more ecologically minded among us, international air travel is currently in a very strong position

The report, released to coincide with the recent World Tourism Day, analysed huge volumes of global travel data – including over 24 million flight search and bookings per day – and found that between January and August this year, international departures were up by a factor of 4.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2018. Additionally, bookings for the period September to November 2019 were, at the time of the report’s release, ahead of where they were this time last year by 7.6 per cent.

When it comes to analysing the reasons behind this boom, ForwardKeys suggests various factors, including oil being at a relatively affordable price at the moment, broadly stable economic growth around the world, and widespread visa reform. Many airlines have increased their capacity this year in response to positive growth forecasts from the IMF.

“This year has been, and is set to become, another exceptionally good year for travel and tourism, worldwide,” commented Olivier Ponto, Vice-President of Insights at the analytics firm. “That is good news because travel and tourism is an increasingly important driver of export revenue and general prosperity, globally. What I find particularly notable is the resilience of the industry in the face of several potentially adverse events such as Brexit, the China-US trade war and political unrest in Hong Kong and the Middle East.”

International departures were at their highest in the Asia-Pacific region, with growth of 7.9 per cent noted for the period January to August, followed by Africa, with six-per-cent growth. The Middle East, however, seems to be struggling, with departures for this period down by 1.7 per cent.

For the period September to November, Africa’s bookings are currently 9.8-per-cent ahead of the equivalent period in 2018, followed by Europe, which is 8.3-per-cent ahead. Again, the Middle East seems to be lagging behind, with bookings ahead by only 2.9 per cent, compared to all other markets analysed.

Looking ahead, said Ponti, there are two ‘counterbalancing indicators’ that should be considered – while forward bookings are very positive, geopolitical events remain in flux, and could change things at any point. This, said Ponti, remains ‘a major concern’.