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Global air travel ‘to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels’ this summer

Global air travel this summer is set to reach 65% of where it was before the pandemic in 2019, new research reveals.

But the revival is patchy, with some parts of the world doing much better than others.

Some types of travel, particularly beach holidays, are much more popular in July, August and September than urban city visits and sightseeing, the ForwardKeys report found. 

Africa and Middle East is the region on course to recover most strongly with arrivals expected to reach 83% of 2019 levels. 

It is followed by the Americas, where summer arrivals are set  to reach 76%, and then by Europe, 71%, and Asia Pacific, at just 35% due to stiffer Covid-19 travel restrictions remaining in force for longer.

The preference for beach holidays is illustrated by a comparison of the top ten beach and urban destinations in Europe, ranked by flight bookings compared to 2019. 

All those in the beach list, which is led by Antalya, 81% ahead, Tirana, 36% ahead and Mykonos, 29% ahead, are showing “extremely healthy” demand.

However, on the urban list, only Naples is ahead. 

Enthusiasm to travel again internationally is so strong that a rise in air fares has done relatively little to dampen demand, the research for World Travel Market found.

For example, the average fare from the US to Europe climbed by more than 35% between January and May with no noticeable slowing in booking rates – and these fares were nearly 60% above the previous year. 

Travel to and within the Asia Pacific region is recovering more slowly, 

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “With 2022 seeing travel restrictions lifted, connectivity re-established, and consumer confidence regained, demand for international travel is on the rise once more, marking a departure from the domestic travel trend that dominated in recent years. 

“In Q3 this year, holidaymakers are relatively much keener to leave the pandemic behind with a relaxing break on the beach than they are to consume culture, cities, and sightseeing.”

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