Unlike the bumpy Singapore and Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble (ATB) that was scrapped after two postponements, the newly launched Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Germany has been distinctively smooth. For travel-starved residents in Singapore who have been kept at home by the pandemic since March last year, the pilot scheme’s significance lies in Germany being the first quarantine-free, long-haul destination for the fully vaccinated.

ForwardKeys examined the impact of the announcement on air travel and has some reassuring news for the travel and tourism sector.

When examining the air tickets issued between the announcement day on August 19 and September 3, demand for travel from Singapore to Germany was 135% higher than from Germany to Singapore.

Tickets from Germany to Singapore reached 18% of that issued in the same period in 2019, while in the other direction it’s at 93% of 2019 levels.

“We had observed similar lopsided demand when the Australia-New Zealand ATB launched in April earlier this year, with almost three times as much travel going to New Zealand than the opposite direction,” said Jameson Wong, Vice President Strategic Clients & Partnerships APAC at ForwardKeys.

“However, while that initial rush was primarily due to returning New Zealanders residing in Australia, the Singapore to Germany air bookings reflect a considerable amount of pent-up demand from the leisure segment. For both directions, around 70% are return tickets, indicating a sizeable pie of short-term visitors,” added Wong.

Further analysis using data from ForwardKeys’ Destination Gateway reveals that the biggest proportion of travellers from Singapore to Germany are indeed leisure travellers, accounting for 76% of all travellers – up from 43% in 2019.

“From quarantine-free fine prints, traveller confidence, timing, clarity of information, the attractiveness of the destination to the ease of making travel arrangements, the stars seem to be well aligned for the long-haul, outbound leisure travel to truly restart,” commented Wong.

The share of tickets issued directly with airlines has grown four-folds, 88% now versus 22% in 2019, revealing the control and assurance that travellers need, as they re-embrace travel and juggle the ongoing, moving pieces.

Ema Mandal, ForwardKeys Insights Specialist, commented that interestingly, the average length of stay for leisure travellers has grown by 2 days from 13 days in 2019 to 15 days.

“We thought the metric would have lengthened significantly given the prolonged halt on long-haul. But it seems the travellers from Singapore to Germany are ‘warming up’, playing it safe and have not yet started to take advantage of the fact that one can take domestic flights within Germany without affecting the return VTL eligibility, which could have driven up the length of stay,” Mandal said.

A closer look at seasonality reveals some similarities in travel patterns across the main traveller segments. Arrivals started to increase from September 8 when the VTL kicked off, but quickly dwindle off in early November and subsequently pick up again when the school holidays commence from 20 November, peaking into December, just in time for the Weihnachtsmärkte in Deutschland, or Christmas Markets in Germany.

Interestingly, business class travel also experiences an increase of 8 percentage points when compared to the same period in 2019.

“When looking at the cabin class of tickets issued for travel from August 19 – September 3, 67% was Economy class, 25% in Business class, 4% in Premium Economy and 4% in First class,” adds Ema Mandal.

Learn more about the Destination Gateway product and all the data solutions currently available at ForwardKeys, contact us.


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