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Airfare and Destination Trends (Summer 2024)

Airfare and Destination Trends (Summer 2024)
19 June 2024 Samantha Anderson
Flight Centre Airfare and Destination Trends (Summer 2024) RoosterPR

Flight Centre UK: Data and Insights Report

As Europe braces itself for a busy few months with EURO 2024, the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, and a UK general election thrown in for good measure, three Travel Experts from Flight Centre UK, one of the world’s largest independent travel agencies, share advice on avoiding the crowds, with data and insight on this summer’s airfares and trending destinations.

Justin Penny, Head of Aviation, argues that the next few months are the best time to travel for a great-value long-haul trip even when booked last minute, given that a pricier and busier than average Europe will result in steadier prices and fewer crowds in typical long-haul destinations.

Store Managers Kelly Darke and Candice Gregory share the most popular long-haul destinations over the next few months and their top recommendations for where to have the best value last-minute summer holiday. Asian countries like Indonesia and Japan are once again on the rise, with airfares eastbound continuing to stabilise. BBC’s Race Across the World is likely influencing demand for Japan, while some of the more unsung Indonesian islands such as Sumatra and Flores are beginning to take off.

Key takeaways from the data and new insight are:

  • Eastbound airfares towards Asia and Australia were down 12% year-on-year and Justin expects that to drop further in the coming months
  • Justin expects westbound airfares towards the USA and Canada to stabilise at a 5-6% year-on-year increase
  • Japan is now the eighth most popular destination for Brits (10th in 2023), with more and more travellers returning to the destination
  • Sri Lanka is the 19th most popular destination for Brits this summer, having jumped 31 places in popularity on last year. The FCO relaxed its travel advice to the country earlier this year
  • Indonesian islands Sumatra and Flores are taking off, with the country as a whole being the sixth most popular among Brits, up one place on last year
  • River cruising along the Rhine and the Danube offers a cooler, crowd-free European travel experience

More information about the above Flight Centre Travel Experts and diagrams to show data supporting their insights can found at the end of the report.

Latest airfare yield trends | eastbound vs. westbound (excl. Europe) – Figure 1

Justin Penny, Head of Aviation, says:

“As of April 2024, airfares from the UK to destinations like Asia, Australia, and New Zealand are seeing a continued decline versus April 2023, with economy fares down 12% year-on-year.

“Since Chinese airlines have continued to reopen routes in the past year, more and more British travellers have opted to transit in China to reach destinations like Australia. This increases general airline capacity and drives competition on routes to Australia, which forces down prices and ultimately, has a knock-on effect on the pricing strategy of legacy carriers such as Qantas and Singapore Airlines, which have had to lower their prices to remain competitive.

“I predict that by the end of June 2024, airfares will have dropped 14% year-on-year and will only drop further.

“On the other hand, airfares westbound have stabilised. Since the US has been open to tourists post-Covid longer than eastern nations, travellers exerted their pent-up demand for holidays and visiting family and friends in the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean last year. As of summer 2024, demand has now stabilised and capacity has returned.

“Eastbound countries only began opening up to foreign tourists last year. Until then, capacity to Australia was operating at around 60%, meaning travellers were holding off on visiting as it was so expensive.

“Over the next few months, I expect westbound airfares to stabilise at a 2% year-on-year increase, while eastbound airfares will decline until late summer. This will all depend on the level of demand for eastbound destinations.

“Since airfares eastbound are declining and will continue to decline, now more than ever is the time to book that Asian or Australian trip to secure both the best value and crowd-free experience. Even booking last minute will see travellers getting more for your money compared to a European summer holiday.”

June – September 2024 destination trends – Figure 2

Seemingly the busy summer in Europe is causing Brits to shy away from the continent in favour of further flung countries. With Australia and Thailand still in the top five destinations for Flight Centre customers, Indonesia has climbed up to the sixth most popular choice for Brits. While luxury-for-less Bali is always a popular backdrop of many an Instagram holiday snap, lesser-known islands like Sumatra are beginning to take off this year.

Candice Gregory, Flight Centre Travel Expert, says:

“In today’s times, holidaymakers are hankering for unique travel experiences that haven’t yet fallen on the radar of the influencer elite.

“Sumatra is steadily becoming one of the more popular islands. The island was formerly a must-visit before shortened visas and improved flight connectivity between Singapore and Bali meant backpackers started to skip it altogether.

“Now, interest in the nature lover’s paradise is once again returning, with the attractions being Lake Toba, swinging orangutans in Mount Leuser National Park, and traditional Batak houses.
“Flores is another island with potential to take off. Just a one-hour flight from Bali, it’s not a schlep to get to and boasts the greenest rainforests and freshest waterfalls in addition to marine parks and white beaches.

“For a holiday, we Aussies know Indonesia like Brits know Spain, so first-timers to the country would do right to enlist the help of a travel agent with local expertise to help plan their trip.”

Other Asian countries have also climbed the UK’s popularity rankings, alongside Indonesia. Kelly puts the regional increases down to consumers drawing inspiration from the latest series of the BBC’s Race Across the World which takes place between Japan and Indonesia.

Kelly Darke, Flight Centre Travel Expert, says:

“Popular culture consistently influences our travel habits, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the BBC show has had an impact on British tourism to Asia.

“Japan is clearly rising in popularity. While last summer it was the tenth most popular destination, this year it’s the eighth.

“What’s interesting is that my team receives more and more enquiries from returning travellers who now want to see another, more specific side of the country. It’s a popular destination for retirees who may take long tours around the country with a focus on cuisine, wellness, and nature, but we do get some younger travellers looking for a week-long itinerary, where they can visit ultra-modern Tokyo, given all the entertainment and culture on offer. We will always suggest at least a fortnight, the Shinkansen [bullet train] doesn’t go that fast!”

Although not a part of Race Across the World’s itinerary, Sri Lanka has become increasingly popular for Brits. For summer 2024, it’s the 19th most popular country for Brits, having jumped up 31 places vs. the same period last year.

Kelly says:

“The flight is around ten hours making it the ideal middle ground destination for busy travellers. Seven to ten days in the destination is sufficient but take more if you’re able.

“Plus, the FCO recently relaxed its travel advice to the country in April, which I imagine has stimulated demand for Sri Lanka.”

Despite the pull of long haul this year, some travellers aren’t willing or able to venture beyond Europe. Candice offers a solution for those wanting to avoid the crowds and beat the heat in Europe.

Candice says:

“Shifts in weather patterns could be influencing travellers to opt for cooler destinations. One cool-cation idea without the crowds is a river cruise. Our most popular summer itinerary sails along rivers Rhine and Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest. Seasonal temperatures on the route average in the mid-twenties and rarely surpass 30 degrees, so it’s a welcome respite from Greece, for example, which is already seeing highs of 36 and 37.

“River cruises take place on smaller vessels, so this naturally creates a more intimate travel experience than ocean cruises. It is also an ideal way to explore Europe without getting stuck in crowds as you leisurely sail through different cities and are able to explore these ports of call and return to the ship at leisure.”

-Ends-

Figure 1:
Eastbound and westbound airfare trends, with year-on-year comparison

Eastbound

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

Overall

1%

-3%

-6%

-10%

-5%

-8%

-10%

-9%

-8%

-10%

-15%

-10%

-17%

By Cabin

Economy

19%

9%

-6%

-5%

-5%

-14%

-15%

-12%

-14%

-14%

-19%

-14%

-12%

Prem Econ

-4%

-7%

-7%

-6%

-1%

-10%

-5%

-9%

1%

-6%

-12%

-6%

-9%

Business

-7%

-10%

-10%

-15%

-12%

-11%

-15%

-11%

-9%

-11%

-14%

-13%

-7%

 

Westbound

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

Overall

10%

3%

2%

-9%

-7%

-8%

0%

-7%

2%

5%

2%

7%

-4%

By Cabin

Economy

13%

8%

-1%

-19%

-1%

-3%

2%

-11%

10%

11%

3%

-3%

-10%

Prem Econ

9%

6%

-4%

-7%

-4%

-2%

3%

-1%

8%

9%

2%

-1%

0%

Business

-2%

-11%

-7%

-10%

-12%

-16%

-1%

-13%

-7%

1%

1%

5%

-2%

Figure 2:
The most popular destinations booked by Brits with Flight Centre through June and September 2024, with year-on-year comparison
Ranking Country YOY Comparison

Ranking

Country

YOY Comparison

1

Australia

+1

2

USA

-1

3

Canada

0

4

Thailand

0

5

South Africa

+1

6

Indonesia

+1

7

New Zealand

-2

8

Japan

+2

9

Malaysia

+5

10

Kenya

+2

11

Italy

-3


For further press information, please contact:
Will Challis | Sarah Geppert | Hannah Carlisle | Emma Arthurs
Rooster.
T: +44 (0)203 440 8930
E: [email protected]

About Flight Centre:
Flight Centre UK is part of one of the largest independent travel companies in the world, which means thousands of people sourcing the best flights, holidays, cruises, tours and stays, so customers can book their trip, their way. Travellers can book in their local Flight Centre store, on the phone, or even using a gift card.

When booking with Flight Centre, customers get access to their very own Travel Expert: knowledgeable and experienced, real-life humans (not chat-bots!) who not only love to travel but also love getting to know their customers and relish the planning that goes into the perfect trip. Flight Centre Experts listen to each unique travel need, no matter how complex, and use ‘holiday know-how’ to create a deal for everyone with itineraries designed based on each customer’s travel style, needs and budget.

Quite simply, Flight Centre tailor-makes it easy.

For more information go to www.flightcentre.co.uk, www.facebook.com/FlightCentreUK, www.twitter.com/flightcentre_UK or www.instagram.com/flightcentreuk.

About Justin Penny:
Justin has over 25 years under his belt as one of the country’s top consumer aviation experts having worked at Corporate Traveller and Virgin Holidays before his current role as Flight Centre UK’s Head of Aviation.

Having previously appeared on ITV News’ primetime evening slot and spoken to the likes of The Telegraph, Euronews, i News, Daily Mail, This Is Money, and Travel Weekly, Justin is more than happy to provide written commentary or to be interviewed on or off air about airfare trends, destination trends, travel advice, and predictions.

About Kelly Darke:
The manager of Flight Centre’s flagship store on Eastcheap, Monument, wields more than 14 years travel industry experience – specialising in tailor-made trips to all places around the world.

About Candice Gregory:
Hailing from down under, Candice imbues that all-important on-the-ground expertise when booking complex itineraries for Brits to Australasia. Candice is the manager of Flight Centre’s Kingston branch and has almost ten years of travel industry experience.