London flights in free-fall – TTR Weekly



LONDON, 1 July 2020: Flight bookings show London has fallen
to the bottom of the top 10 most booked European cities, as border restrictions
and UK  quarantine regulations choked
travel, according to research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)
and ForwardKeys.

In the first half of June last year as the holiday season
was in full swing, London was the most heavily booked city in Europe for any
date of arrival, followed by Paris and Rome.

However, travel restrictions, such as the quarantine rules
imposed by the UK government, caused the capital to slump to the bottom of the
top 10.

While Europe has begun to relax travel restrictions and
bookings have begun to pick-up, those for London have languished.

Under pressure from the travel sector, the UK government
finally looks set to announce ‘travel corridors’ to popular European summer
hotspots such as France, Germany, Greece, Turkey and Italy. This would enable
airlines to open flights for bookings to Brits eager to get away during the
summer.

Lisbon meanwhile has soared to the top of the list of most-booked
European cities during the first half of June, compared to sitting close to the
bottom in ninth place in 2019.

Portugal has been one of the first countries to establish
enhanced hygiene and safety protocols to welcome tourists and has one of the top
testing rates to control transmission.

According to ForwardKeys research, new tickets issued for
future international travel to the European Union (EU) dropped by 84.4% in the
first half of June compared to the same period in 2019, recovering from a 94.5%
overall decline in May.

Meanwhile, bookings to the UK plunged by a staggering 96.7%
in the first half of June, almost unchanged from the precipitous 97.2% collapse
in May.

New flight bookings for all future international departures
from the EU slumped by 80.2% in the first half of June 2020, compared to the
same period in 2019, recovering from a hefty 92.3% decline in May.

By comparison, bookings from London only recovered to an
89.8% year on year decline during the first half of June, compared to a
punishing 94.0% decline in May.

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara, said: “Travel
restrictions and quarantines have continued to quash air travel and strangle
demand for travel to and from London, causing it to fall to the bottom of the
league for top ten most booked European cities, according to latest flight
bookings.

“However, analysis by ForwardKeys clearly shows demand for
flights to and from Europe has begun to recover, thanks in part to a relaxation
of travel restrictions which has fuelled the recovery in the Travel &
Tourism sector.

“We eagerly await the UK government’s announcement it will
finally allow travellers to make plans for the summer and visit destinations
across the whole of Europe and allow the UK Travel & Tourism sector to kick-off
its much-needed recovery.

“The implementation of global protocols as well as testing
and contact tracing for intercontinental arrivals, as unveiled by WTTC’s Safe
and Seamless Traveller Journey initiative, will restore consumer confidence and
encourage travelling to resume.”

“We believe these measures will allow travellers to
meet the huge pent up demand to travel once more and enjoy a much-need summer
break while enabling the Travel & Tourism sector to reopen for business,
restoring the livelihoods of millions of people dependent upon tourism.

“The success of the popular holiday destination of Portugal
in attracting visitors follows the government’s implementation of a number of
enhanced health and safety measures. These are, in line with our global
protocols, designed to restart this important sector and ensure safe travel. We
are delighted to recognise these efforts through the WTTC Safe Travels stamp.”

ForwardKeys, CEO Olivier Jager said: “It’s alarming to see
London, which is Europe’s most popular capital to visit, falling from top spot
to 10th place in the ranking of most booked European cities during the first
half of June.

“The UK’s tough new quarantine regulations are almost
certainly responsible, and that conclusion is further reinforced by the
difference between inbound and outbound bookings. ForwardKeys research clearly
shows that European air travel has begun to rebound with a slow but steady rise
in bookings, compared to the same period last year.”

“Our ticketing data shows that while volumes are still low,
having fallen across the EU by nearly 84% compared to the same period in 2019,
the numbers are beginning to improve. However, new tickets for future arrivals
into the UK are still a staggering 97% down compared to the same ticketing period
last year.”

Last year, the UK attracted more than 40 million overseas
visitors. This data from WTTC and ForwardKeys shows that if the UK government
continues to drag its heels in announcing the next steps for reopening the
country, including the removal of barriers such as quarantine and establishing
‘air corridors’, it will have a devastating effect on the Travel & Tourism
sector.

This latest data comes on the back of a series of WTTC
measures which are designed to rebuild global consumer confidence and encourage
the return of Safe Travels.

Safe Travels Protocols were developed for the global Travel
& Tourism sector, which focused on measures to drive business to hotels,
tour operators, attractions, short short-term rentals.

It was also developed for airlines and airports, according
to International Civil Organization (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce
(CART) Take-off guidance, to enable them to follow strict health and hygiene
regimes to reopening for business.

The welfare of travellers and the millions of people
employed throughout the Travel & Tourism sector was at the heart of the
protocols and were backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization
(UNWTO).

Evidence from WTTC’s Crisis Readiness report, which looked
at 90 different types of crises, highlights the importance of public-private
cooperation to ensure that smart policies and effective communities are in
place to enable a more resilient Travel & Tourism sector.

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019,
Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total),
making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new
jobs.