Travel agents suffered a 50% drop in passenger bookings to Paris amid a “dramatic” fall in flight bookings in the week following the massacre in the French capital on November 13.
Latest leisure travel market data from GfK also revealed that total bookings for all destinations in the week to last Saturday were 15% down year on year.
Mid-haul destinations suffered the sharpest fall, with 26% fewer holidays booked. Egypt and Tunisia accounted for most of the decline.
Industry data analyst ForwardKeys reported airline bookings to Paris down 27% at the start of this week, while cancellations rose 21% year on year in the week to November 21.
ForwardKeys chief executive Oliver Jago said: “There were last-minute cancellations of immediate travel plans, predominantly among business travellers. New bookings have also dropped dramatically.”
International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh said: “It’s natural these appalling events would make people consider their travel plans. We did see a fall [in demand] in the immediate aftermath.”
But he told the Airport Operators Association conference in London on Monday: “I don’t see this having a medium-term impact on the industry. What gives people confidence are the measures they see being taken in response.”
EasyJet UK director Sophie Deckers said: “We see some significant trading challenges, after Paris and Egypt. There is a general nervousness.”
Holiday flights to Egypt appear unlikely to resume this year after easyJet and BA cancelled services to Sharm el-Sheikh until January and
Monarch boss Andrew Swaffield warned it would take at least nine months for demand to return.
Swaffield urged the government to “strike a balance” between stopping flights and not giving the terrorists what they want. “We need to have an eye to the fact that markets are being closed down by terrorism,” he said.
“We have to find a way to operate in a world that is less safe, without just stopping operations. We must get markets open again otherwise we’re saying to the terrorists ‘you can wipe out an entire industry’.”
John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel, admitted that he doesn’t know what the future holds in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Egypt.
Speaking at the Hays Travel IG conference in Portugal, he said: “[Terrorism] is causing disruption and it’s out of our control. I can’t see anything but more disruption. How scared will a UK holidaymaker be, especially in the key January period? It’s a concern for all of us.”
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