Research undertaken by ForwardKeys reveals that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent collapse in aviation, there has been a last-minute surge in flight bookings for the Christmas period.
In a normal year, tickets issued for travel in the week before Christmas tend to grow progressively throughout the year.
However, in 2020, the pattern has been different, with a late rush taking place during November.
While the recent uplift in bookings will be welcomed by the aviation industry, international air travel over the Christmas period will, in reality, be no more than a small oasis in the desert.
Air tickets issued for arrivals between December 19th-25th look set to peak at just 20 per cent of 2019 levels but bookings from January 1st-31st are currently lower still, at just 11 per cent of where they were at the equivalent point in 2019.
The last-minute rush for international flights is a direct consequence of travel restrictions changing frequently throughout the pandemic and uncertainty about official advice concerning travel over the Christmas period.
Olivier Ponti, vice president, insights, ForwardKeys, said: “In normal years, we see people taking international flights during the Christmas holiday period to gather with family members they have not seen for a while.
“But this year, such behaviour is being dampened as it poses a risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus; and it is being made more difficult by various travel restrictions.
“At the same time, many destinations which are heavily dependent on tourism have made strenuous efforts to stay open for business, implementing Covid-resistant protocols, to ensure their valuable leisure visitors can come and remain safe.
“This is particularly true of numerous places in the Caribbean and Mexico, which are entering their peak season.
“They are being relatively very successful, in comparison to other parts of the world, attracting visitors from their most important market, the USA, who are eager for a holiday outdoors in the sunshine.”