Aircraft loading passengers against a sunrise

41 per cent of Europeans aim to travel abroad before the end of July 2021, a report by the European Travel Commission (ETC) revealed on Wednesday.

The report, which is the fifth of its kind monitoring sentiment for domestic and intra-European travel, showed that Europeans’ travel sentiments are improving.

The survey was conducted between late December and early January. It had 5,855 respondents, and received funding from the EU.

Whilst only 12 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they were willing to travel before the end of March, the outlook for spring and summer looks positive, with 34 per cent of Europeans aiming to plan a trip between May and July 2021. 

The report also reveals an overall upward trend for travel (domestic and international), with 54 per cent of respondents saying they plan to take a trip by the end of July.

The countries whose citizens are most keen to travel before the end of July are Poland with 80.2 per cent, Italy with 60.7 per cent and Austria, with 55.4 per cent. 

Confidence in air travel is also improving, with the ETC indicating that only 16 per cent of Europeans now see flying as a health risk, and the proportion of Europeans that plan to take a plane has increased from 49 per cent in September 2020 to 54 per cent in January 2021. 

This will come as a relief to the aviation industry, that according to the International Air Transport Association recorded its worst ever year in 2020, with international passenger demand declining by 75.6 per cent on 2019 levels.

Despite the demand for travel, the aviation industry will likely struggle to take solace in the news, as the IATA has predicted dramatically decreased passenger traffic in 2021, suggesting it expects passenger levels to reach only 51.3 per cent of their 2019 levels even in its most optimistic forecasts. 

The increasing decline in passenger forecasts, in combination with increasing demand for travel, as displayed by the ECB survey, lends weight to the idea that there is significant “pent up demand” for international travel, that will allow airlines to rebound swiftly when restrictions are eventually lifted.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary will likely feel vindicated by the ETC report. At the start of February, he described “enormous pent-up demand” for air travel.

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