For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, global leisure and business flights have risen to a level not seen since 2019.

This is stated in the third annual report on travel Mastercard Economics Institute entitled “Travel 2022: Trends and Transitions”, published yesterday.

After analyzing 37 global markets, the report found that as of March, cross-border travel had reached a level before the pandemic – a significant milestone for the tourism industry, which since 2020 has been dominated by domestic travel.

The flights are back

According to the report, in April, global booking of airline tickets for travel increased by 25% above the level before the pandemic. This was due to the number of flights to short and medium haul, which in April were higher than during the same period in 2019, the report said.

Long-distance flights for rest did not lag behind. According to the report, after the start of the year at -75% of pre-pandemic levels an “unprecedented surge” in international flight bookings led to 2019 levels these flights were “just embarrassed” in less than three months.

As with airlines, global spending on cruises, buses and passenger railways rose sharply earlier this year, and rental car rental in March exceeded 2019, according to a 2022 Mastercard Economics Institute travel report.

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Business pilots, who carried passengers throughout the pandemic, are also returning to the skies.

In late March, booking business flights for the first time since the pandemic exceeded 2019, a key milestone for airlines that rely on corporate passengers who fly frequently.

According to the report, the return of business travel was quick, as business flight bookings were only about half from levels before the pandemic earlier this year.

Delay in Asia

The global upward trajectory is happening despite a slow return to air travel in Asia. This year, the number of flights to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia among Asia-Pacific airlines has increased, although most major international tourist destinations have been outside the region.

“According to our data, among the major destinations visited by travelers from the Asia-Pacific region in the first quarter of 2022, 50% were outside the region, with the United States number one,” said David Mann, chief economist in the Asia-Pacific region. . Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Economics Mastercard.

“Despite the belated recovery from the West,” said Mann, “travelers to the Asia-Pacific region have shown a strong desire to return to travel where there was liberalization.”

According to the Mastercard Economics Institute, if flight reservations continue at the same pace, it is estimated that this year 1.5 billion global passengers will fly more than in 2021, with more than a third of them coming from Europe.

Will it continue?

The high demand for air transport and the growth of global hiring trends are just some of the reasons why the global tourism industry is “more reason to be optimistic than pessimistic,” the report said.

Over the past two years, people have repaid debt at a “record rate”, while more affluent consumers – who “travel faster on vacation” – have benefited from savings related to the pandemic and rising asset prices, the report said.

However, rising inflation, market instability, geopolitical challenges in Europe and Asia, and rising levels of Covid-19 threaten to disrupt a reliable resumption of travel in 2022.

Revenues are expected to rise in response to inflation, but in developing countries, this will happen faster, the report said.

“While we expect revenue growth to outpace consumer price growth in Germany and the US by mid-2023, this is unlikely to happen until 2024 and 2025 in Mexico and South Africa, respectively,” the report said.

Among the many risks that can disrupt the resumption of travel … we would call Covid the biggest dispersal factor.

David Mann

chief economist of the Mastercard Institute of Economics

Airline tickets also rose: the average ticket price rose by about 18% from January to April this year, the report said.

The increase in the cost of air travel differed significantly depending on the region: fares in Singapore increased by 27% from April 2019 to April 2022. However, the report says that air fares in the United States have remained roughly unchanged over the same period of time.

Although many countries have reopened to international travelers, the pandemic is still looming over the industry.

“Among the many risks that could disrupt the resumption of travel … we would call Covid the biggest dispersal factor,” Mann said.

“While treatment is better and many markets are celebrating successful vaccine deployments, a difficult or contagious option that requires border closures could lead to the return of non-linear“ stop-start ”recovery patterns that have been around for the past two years,” he said.

Cheers last summer?

Whether there will be a demand for travel throughout the year – or whether travelers will take the last summer cheers before packing their bags – is yet to be seen.

The report notes that people traditionally spend less on travel due to rising energy and food costs.

“However, given the huge level of deferred demand in the world after the pandemic, this time may be different,” the report said.

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