Analysis by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics company, reveals that, as of March 24th, international summer season bookings for air travel to all American destinations (North, Central, and South America plus the Caribbean) are currently 26.8% behind where they were at the equivalent time last year.
The setback in bookings started with the COVID-19 outbreak in the second half of January and has continued to March where cancellations are now exceeding new bookings. Bookings for June are 31.4% behind and for July and August are 24.6% and 23.3% behind respectively.
However, ForwardKeys’ study also reveals that 17% of summer season bookings are typically made in the period September-January, 29% in the period February-April, (which looks likely to be the peak of the COVID-19 crisis and the associated travel restrictions), and 53% between May-August. Therefore, if the world starts to recover from the worst of the outbreak around the end of April, there is still time for a rapid booking recovery to rescue the summer season.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “What this analysis reveals is how late people actually book. With the temporary freeze on bookings induced by the COVID-19 crisis and associated travel restrictions, it is likely that summer booking will be even more last-minute in nature, owing to pent up demand. However, when the recovery comes, it will not affect source markets and destinations equally. To better understand how strong it is, it will be crucial to keep careful tabs on what flights are and aren’t in service as well as how solid bookings are per regional market.”