ForwardKeys has revealed that upon a series of announcements by southern European governments eager to welcome tourists for the Summer season, there has been a significant jump in international flight bookings for Greece, Portugal, and Spain for July and August.

“For most of April and May, the aviation market has been in a state of suspended animation with nearly no new bookings,” said Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.

However, in the fourth week of May, things started to shift. On 20th May, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s Prime Minister, announced that the country would open its doors to foreign tourists from 1st July.

Two days later, Portugal’s Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, announced that its border would reopen on 15th June; and the following day, Spain followed suit.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Prime Minister, said that the country would re-open its doors for foreign tourism from July 1.

Markets reacted immediately. From 20th May – 3rd June, the number of international flight tickets issued for Greece, increased from effectively zero to 35% of what they were during the same period in 2019.

Flight Bookings

In the 12 days from 22nd May, – 3rd June, the number of international flight tickets issued for Portugal, increased from effectively zero to 35% of what they were during the same period in 2019 and in the 11 days from 23rd May – 3rd June, the uplift in Spain has reached 30%

A closer analysis by type of traveller reveals that there has been a very similar pattern of recovery in all destinations. Leisure travellers account for the bulk of new tickets, but recovery has been stronger amongst ex-pats and people visiting friends and relatives (VFR). In that niche, air tickets to Greece, Portugal, and Spain, reached 89%, 87%, and 54% of 2019 levels, respectively.

Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “When governments tell people they can travel, flight bookings immediately start. However, given that there should be strong pent up demand for holidays in southern Europe in July and August, the relatively low booking levels, compared to 2019, suggest that people are still reluctant to fly.”

“Bookings for Greece, Portugal, and Spain are respectively 49.8%, 52% and 53.5% behind where they were at the beginning of June 2019. It will still be challenging for any of those countries to rescue this Summer holiday season at this rate,” Ponti concludes.

Olivier-Ponti-ForwardKeysOlivier Ponti
Vice-President Insights

olivier.ponti@forwardkeys.com