Europe aviation. Seats and bookings fall; travel controls start to ease

Premium Analysis

A campaign led by the travel industry to return to restriction-free travel for vaccinated passengers appears to be gathering momentum. The latest sign of this is the UK government's decision to remove the requirement for post-arrival lateral flow tests for arriving travellers from 11-Feb-2022.

Nevertheless, short term trends remain negative both for capacity and bookings, as a result of the wave in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant of the virus in Europe.

Seat numbers for Europe are 40.5% below 2019 levels in the week of 24-Jan-2022. This is 21.8ppts worse than four weeks ago and keeps Europe at the bottom of the regional capacity recovery ranking. Africa capacity is down by 34.7%, Asia Pacific by 32.1%, the Middle East by 30.8%, Latin America by 15.6%, and North America by 13.9%.

Moreover, IATA data show that bookings in European domestic and international markets slipped from Nov-2021 to Dec-2021 (and also in the global market).

Europe has higher case numbers per million than the world average, but this appears to have peaked in the UK and the rest of Europe is set to follow. A wider reduction in travel restrictions could then ensue.

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