- 320 dead- Terrorist attack at the Brussels’ airport 2016
- 224 dead- Bombing of Russian Jetliner flying from Egypt in November 2015
- 130 dead- Paris killings in November 2015
Spates of terror attacks and air crashes have started to show the effect on Europe’s travel industry. After terror incidents, tourism officials generally brace themselves for such sudden drops. In a matter of weeks, things come back to normal. But this time, things are starting to look different.
Starting with Egypt-Air Flight 804 disappearance from the radar to the Paris attacks, bookings started to decline significantly. Carolyn McCall (chief executive of British budget airline) said: “We have seen more external factors affecting us than we have seen at any other time.”
Another statement came from Michael O’Leary (CEO of Ryanair Holdings PLC, Europe’s biggest budget carrier) that “the pace of bookings—an early sign of passenger sentiment—again started slowing after the Egypt-Air tragedy.” He didn’t provide figures, though. Terrorist groups such as Islamic State have mainly targeted Europe in their master plans. Several of them happened in the year 2015 and in the present year of 2016.
The major attacks have inculcated fear among tourists. Thomas Cook (Britain’s best-known tour operator) said in his analysis this is the biggest fall in our travel industry in last 17 years. Turkey is Cook’s second biggest market. There have been a series of attacks in Turkey which has greatly affected the market.
Ryanair and EasyJet (Europe’s biggest carriers) were forced to cut their prices after the ongoing attacks. Tour operators are not flying to Egyptian resorts that have lately become a ghost town. Over there bookings have declined by a third.
However, bookings in Spain have increased up to 27%, with Portugal up to 30% and Italy up to 12%. There has been a corresponding effect on prices in Europe. David Hope (GfK’s business group director) said: “Prices are going up and up and up.” But he says this is only healthy for tour operators if they can provide enough rooms to meet demand. Cook’s rival, Tui (owner of Thomson) has fared better because it focuses on Spain and relies less on Turkey.
Robin Byde (a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald) says: “Between EasyJet and Ryanair, they have more than 20% of European short-haul traffic. They are price-makers as well as price-takers, so you have to take it with a pinch of salt when they talk about pressures driving down prices.” The biggest influence on air fares is that on fuels. Airline companies buy their fuel in 2-year advance, so they are getting the benefit of the falling oil price enabling them plenty of scopes to cut down fares.
McCall reiterates that travelling is an important part of everyday life. Demands will bounce back after these shocks. So from a consumer’s point of view this indeed a very good time to fly.
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Pritam is pursuing engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @pritam_gogreen