The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported high levels of confidence among travelers for the peak Northern summer travel holiday season. This corresponds with first quarter 2023 forward bookings data for May-September 2023, which is tracking at 35% above 2022 levels.
The organization’s survey, covering 4,700 travelers in 11 countries, shows that 79% of travelers surveyed said that they were planning a trip in the June-August 2023 period. While 85% said that peak travel season disruptions should not be a surprise, 80% said that they expected smooth travel with post-pandemic issues having been resolved. The forward bookings data indicates that the greatest growth is expected in Asia-Pacific (134.7%), the Middle East (42.9%), Europe (39.9%), Africa (36.4%), Latin America (21.4%) and North America (14.1%).
Nick Careen, senior vice president for operations, safety and security at IATA, commented, “Expectations are high for this year’s peak Northern summer travel season. For many this will be their first post-pandemic travel experience. While 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 few months, all industry players now need to deliver.”
IATA emphasized that 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 capacities that have been declared and scheduled are available.
Careen said, “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.”
Labor unrest, particularly in France, is reportedly a cause for concern. Eurocontrol data on the impact of French strikes earlier in 2023 shows that cancellations can spike by over one-third.
Careen continues, “We need to keep a very close eye on Europe where strike actions caused significant disruptions earlier this year. Governments should have effective contingency plans in place so that the actions of those providing essential services such as 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.”
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