“The jury is out” on whether Europe will see a significant return of holiday travel this summer, according to a leading analyst.
Many EU states opened their borders to travellers from other EU countries this week and the remainder are due to follow by the start of July.
Jonathan Wober, Centre for Aviation (CAPA) chief financial analyst, warned: “The jury is still out on whether there will be any significant return of holiday travel in the summer.”
Speaking on a CAPA webcast, Wober said: “Beginning in July, the bigger airline groups are saying anything between 20% of last year’s capacity, in the case of Air France-KLM, and 60% in the case of Wizz Air will operate.
“But what they are saying about capacity plans and what may happen are not always going to be the same. Capacity will come back, but will demand?”
Wober said: “The return of consumer confidence will be driven to some extent by aviation hygiene standards [and] we have at least seen a unified response on that through the European Aviation Safety Agency.
[But] it’s more granular than that. Consumer confidence is about your own experience of lockdown, whether you can go to the shops and to parks, whether you can visit friends.
“Until you can do these things you will probably be less comfortable to get on a plane.”
Wober noted: “In the UK, we are still being told, ‘Don’t go on holiday’, although that could change.
“The UK is the biggest aviation market in Europe and London is the biggest aviation city in the world. But the economic collapse in the UK has been more significant than elsewhere in Europe and the quarantine rules the UK has imposed could hold it back.”
He warned: “We’ve seen no significant airlines go out of business so far, but in the recovery phases it could be a lot more challenging as costs come back into the equation and the extent to which revenue comes back is unknown.
“If airlines don’t generate more revenue, their cash will burn down quickly.”
Richard Maslan, CAPA European content editor, added: “Lots of routes are being introduced, but the frequencies are not there [and] airlines are using small aircraft. That does not work for business travellers [who] need the frequencies and to be able to get out and back.”
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