Global long-haul travel on the up but USA falters
New research into global long-haul travel plans for 2018 suggests a bright outlook for many countries with travellers looking to fly almost everywhere except the USA.
The data from Spain-based consultancy ForwardKeys, which helps forecast future travel by analysing around 17 million flight booking transactions a day, shows that global long-haul flight bookings are 10.4 per cent ahead of the same time last year. The notable exception to the generally bright outlook is the USA, where the climate is expected to be somewhat cooler than the rest of the world.
Looking back on 2017, the world has just experienced an outstanding year for long-haul travel. Globally, mercury in the intercontinental flight arrival barometer touched the +7.0% growth mark. Inbound air travel to the Asia Pacific region was sunny, up 4.4%. To Africa and the Middle East, intercontinental flight arrivals were decidedly humid, up 11.5% and to Europe, they were stifling, up 13.3%. The only negative was the Americas, where growth was virtually frozen – it was just 0.1% up on 2016.
Looking at the travel forecast for the first Quarter of 2018, long-haul flight bookings are generally exceptionally bright everywhere, 10.4% ahead of the equivalent moment last year. The notable exception is the USA, where bookings for international arrivals are just 2.6% ahead.
Asia Pacific boom
Current long-haul bookings for the Asia Pacific region are running 12% ahead of where they were last December, with a positive outlook for the outbound picture too – the major bright spots including Australia, New Zealand, India and China, where economic growth is stimulating demand for travel, coupled with capacity increases.
Travel to South Korea is still suffering from the THAAD missile crisis and the deep setback is unlikely to be reversed by a recent thaw in diplomatic relations or the winter Olympics in PyeongChang (conditions which in other years would probably precipitate a perfect storm in demand).
Long-haul bookings for Africa and the Middle East are 11.9% ahead, and Africa’s outbound travel is on the up too, buoyed up by general economic recovery in Nigeria and South Africa.
First-quarter bookings to Continental Europe are 13.3% ahead, with Russia benefiting from hosting the FIFA World Cup, which will attract a tidal surge in visitors and encourage the domestic population to remain at home. The outlook for the UK is less positive, with the rise in the value of Sterling dampening some of enthusiasm for the destination that was seen last year.
The travel forecast for the Americas is a tale of contrasts. Overall, bookings are 4.8% ahead, but USA bookings are around 2% lower than the average for the continent.