As we are on the front lines of travel trends based around the demand for flights we follow along with predictable seasonal shifts every year. Summers are busy, holidays too, and common weeks for spring breaks from school spike demand for family travel as well.
And while short-term economic trends have tied to dips or increases in demand over the past five years, we have never seen a fall-off quite like the past two weeks.
Our data shows that demand for flight and travel interest is DOWN almost 70% in March 2020. While the line has appeared to flatten out a bit, much of the demand we’re seeing is for flights at least four to six months from now, with absolutely no demand for flights in the next four months.
In the past month alone, the start of March had flight numbers starting to decrease slightly as news of Coronavirus started to alarm some travelers, but the big falloff happened approximately three weeks ago, as international health organizations started making recommendations against any non-essential travel. And while that’s still the recommendation, many US states and countries have issued stay-at-home orders, requiring anyone that is able to do so stay home.
COVID-19 has demolished travel demand, with not only massive decreases to the number of flights and hotels booked, but also to cancellations. It took most travel companies to recognize the severity of the Coronavirus outbreak, but now many have backtracked on initially indecisive cancellation policies and instead shifted into crisis mode, offering cancellations and flight credits to anyone who requests it.
While there is no telling how long this trend will continue, it is a positive sign that people are taking the pandemic seriously. The death toll continues to rise, and the virus has spread across international borders faster than we can keep track. At this point, most international organizations are begging for people to maintain social distancing and limit any outings to necessary departures from the home. Even those without symptoms are at risk of carrying the virus with them into public space.
Many countries are closing their borders in an attempt to slow the spread from international trends, and it seems likely that these types of isolation will become more common in the coming weeks as well.
Business Insider recently published data about each airline’s current situation given the demand for flights collapsing. They found, and this was two weeks ago, that over 50 airlines have suspended or cancelled flights.
“The fear of contracting the virus combined with government restrictions on travel has negatively impacted the travel industry in a way that hasn’t been seen since after the September 11, 2001 attacks.”
While we fully expect travel to return to a sense of normalcy in the next year, it still feels like we haven’t seen the worst of travel demand’s collapse just yet. We will be tracking along in the coming weeks and will report on any notable trends that we find.