June 01, 2022

Reasons to Be Cheerful: Air Travel Search Data Reveals That the Renewal of Travel Is Underway


Amadeus data is among the most comprehensive in the industry and its dedicated team of data ninjas are never not crunching the numbers. They’ve looked at the first four months of 2022 and the signs are positive. Using air search volumes as an indicator of intent, it is evident that travellers around the globe are gearing up to travel again.

Traveller search in 2022 is close to 2019

Global search volumes have been on an upward trajectory all year. In fact, during the last week of April, global search volumes were tantalisingly close to 2019 levels: only 3% short of pre-pandemic.

Breaking down the data by country reveals some big double-digit increases in searches from travellers in major markets. Across the month of April, searches from Mexico were up 69%, with Canada up by 29%.

Equally interesting is the breakdown by what we call “haul” – domestic, intra-regional and international. Domestic searches are driving the recovery, reaching positive territory in the last week of April, recorded a 4% increase v. 2019. Markets such Italy (up 82% on 2019), India (up 47%) and the US (12%) are among the strongest.

Intra-regional (travel within a region) searches in the last week of April also came close to 2019 levels, only 4% shy. Stand-out performers in this category include France (+ 38%), the UK (+35%) and the US – making another appearance, indicative of a strong recovery – up by 19%.

International searches are the slowest to recover but are still performing strongly, seeing a drop v. 2019 of only 7%. This time, North America is led by Canada, with a 28% increase compared with 2019. Elsewhere, Argentina is seeing a strong interest on international outbound: 24% ahead of 2019 levels.

The patterns for domestic, intra-regional and international reflect how the travel market usually comes back after an external shock. After so much uncertainty, it’s good to be able to share something familiar and reassuring from the data. Domestic is usually the first to get back to normal and this is happening now. Visiting family and friends usually drives the initial return in travel but in 2022 we have had the phenomenon of the “staycation” driving domestic interest. Intra-regional and short-haul travel then follows, as traveller confidence increases.

2022 ahead of 2021 despite headwinds

Comparisons with last year confirm that 2022 search volumes are significantly higher than the same period in 2021, confirming the resilience of the industry and that the demand for travel is strong.

Search volumes across the first four months of 2022 are on average 69% ahead of 2021. Every month is outperforming 2021 and the only fluctuation was in March.

January was 37% ahead year-on-year; February 77% ahead; growth slowed to 67% in March before picking up again in April at 94%.

The trajectory reflects global events – the Omicron variant was prevalent throughout January but concerns faded during February as infection rates dropped and traveller confidence returned. Growth then slowed again in March but recovered in April.

April 2022 was close to 2021 across all hauls – with domestic leading the way again, seeing a 111% increase. Intra-regional is at 87% of 2021’s levels with international even closer to 2021 at 93%.

Major city pairs tracking 2019

The data also reveals another aspect of the airline industry where trends and patterns are returning to familiar territory - city pairs – with many getting back to pre-pandemic levels of interest. Of the 16 most popular routes, nine of them are seeing search volumes higher than at the same stage in 2019.

Regional leaders are emerging in EMEA and APAC, with searches to and from London and Seoul dominating, respectively. In the Americas the load is spread more evenly with New York leading the charge.

The most popular routes include some additions to the usual suspects, excellent news for the network planners at airlines involved. Seoul-New York, Bogota-Madrid and Los Angeles-London are now among the most searched options.

Conclusion:

The air search data from across Amadeus shows that the industry can be optimistic about the rest of 2022 and beyond. Using search as an indicator of intent, we are already doing better than last year and, in many cases, we’re getting back to volumes comparable with 2019. While the experiences of the past few years will continue to resonate, the data shows that travellers want to travel and that the industry is ready to serve them. Together we can renew travel.

Copyright 2022 Amadeus. All rights reserved. From https://amadeus.com. By Martin Cowen.

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