The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported general high levels of confidence in air travel for the upcoming peak Northern summer holiday season.
This corresponds with first quarter 2023 forward bookings data for travel in May–September 2023, which is tracking at 35% above 2022 levels.
IATA survey data
An IATA survey covered 4,700 travelers in 11 countries, and shows the level of healthy demand. Perhaps more important is the general sentiment of confidence in the air travel, after the chaotic post pandemic issues which were experienced by both airlines and airports.
From the survey data:
- 79% of travellers surveyed were planning a trip in the June-August 2023 period.
- 80% of travellers surveyed are expecting smooth travel with post pandemic issues having been resolved.
The assessment of forward bookings also shows a positive growth across all the key global travel regions:
- Asia Pacific region (134.7%)
- Middle East (42.9%)
- Europe (39.9%)
- Africa (36.4%)
- Latin America (21.4%)
- North America (14.1%)
The 2023 Northern summer season is perhaps something of a litmus test for the industry, following a somewhat chaotic return to operations after the three year pandemic hiatus. IATA’s Nick Careen highlighted the fact that, for many travellers, this season would be their first return to air travel after the pandemic era.
“Expectations are high for this year’s peak Northern summer travel season. For many this will be their first post-pandemic travel experience,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
“Although some disruptions can be expected, there is a clear expectation that the ramping-up issues faced at some key hub airports in 2022 will have been resolved.”
“To meet strong demand, airlines are planning schedules based on the capacity that airports, border control, ground handlers, and air navigation service providers have declared.”
Over the next months, all industry players now need to deliver,” he warned.
Are airlines and airports prepared?
Collaboration, sufficient staffing and accurate information sharing are all essential to minimize operational disruptions and their impact on passengers.
The key is ensuring that the declared capacities and schedules are available.
“A lot of work has gone into preparing for the peak Northern summer travel season. Success rests on readiness across all players in the supply chain.”
“If each player delivers on what has been declared, there should be no last-minute requirements to reduce the scale of the schedules that travelers have booked on,” said Careen.
A watchful eye on Europe
Labor unrest, particularly in France, is a cause for concern. Eurocontrol data on the impact of French strikes earlier this year shows that cancellations can spike by over a third.
“We need to keep a very careful eye on Europe where strike actions have caused significant disruptions earlier this year.”
“Governments should have effective contingency plans in place so that the actions of those providing essential services like air traffic control maintain minimum service levels and do not disrupt the hard-earned vacations of those traveling or put at risk the livelihoods of those in the travel and tourism sectors,” said Careen.