May 29, 2023

If there was ever an indication of a rocky travel period ahead, the travel industry surely received it on Friday, as British Airways canceled hundreds of flights, the equivalent of four months’ worth, as reported by i news.

Last Wednesday, British Airways cancelled 112 flights to European and Mediterranean countries from the U.K. and followed this with the cancellation of hundreds more between May and September to destinations such as Miami, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

This came after U.K. airline EasyJet was also forced to cancel flights over the recent Easter holidays and across the Atlantic, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines cancelled up to 10% of planned flights for the same reasons.

Airlines are having trouble coping with a surge in demand as countries increasingly open up and become easier to visit–over 15 countries in Europe have entirely scrapped travel restrictions and Greece became the latest, opening up from May onwards. In addition, there are huge staff shortages, notably of pilots, due to absences caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) announced a huge surge in international bookings globally this week, at its Global Summit in Manila. Research partner, ForwardKeys reported that Costa Rica, Aruba, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica are taking the top spot in international bookings over the summer period–figures are surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

The resurgence is being particularly felt in Asia-Pacific countries (Q1 bookings are up 275% on 2021) as Asian countries open up after months of closure–the Philippines, for example, is the fastest-growing destination at the moment for the summer.

International arrivals in Europe are up 350% for Q1 bookings compared to 2021 in the same period–with Iceland, Spain, France, Portugal and Greece showing sharp rises, although bookings are slightly behind pre-pandemic levels.

Across the Middle East and Africa, the biggest growing destinations are Tanzania, Qatar and Egypt. There is also a big resurgence to Caribbean and Latin American countries, as well as to India and Pakistan (the latter two driven by visits to family and friends).

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