International flight bookings drop since outbreak of Israel-Gaza war

Travel demand outlook for fourth quarter has also been revised downwards, ForwardKeys says

Los Angeles International Airport. Even flight bookings to the Americas have declined since the war in Gaza began. AP
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Demand for international air travel fell across the world in the weeks following the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war, slowing the aviation sector's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

International flight bookings dropped five percentage points in the three weeks after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, compared with the number of tickets issued three weeks before the attack, travel data analysis company ForwardKeys said.

This has dented the global rebound in international travel from the pandemic, with the outlook for the fourth quarter now revised downwards by 7 percentage points to 88 per cent of 2019 levels.

That compares with a prewar forecast on October 27 that travel demand would reach 95 per cent of its 2019 levels.

"This war is a catastrophic, heart-breaking, human tragedy that we are all seeing daily on our TV screens," Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at ForwardKeys, said.

"That is bound to put people off travelling to the region but it has also dented consumer confidence in travelling elsewhere, too.

Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza since October 7 has killed more than 11,000 people, including at least 4,000 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. About half of the enclave's 2.3 million residents have also been displaced.

The bombardment is in response to a deadly rampage in southern Israel by Hamas militants that killed about 1,400 people.

Since the war began, major global airlines have suspended flights to Tel Aviv, citing security reasons.

Flight bookings from Middle Eastern countries have fallen by 9 percentage points since the outbreak of war, according to ForwardKeys.

However, other regions around the world have also been affected, particularly the Americas, as would-be travellers cancel trips to other regions.

Flight bookings from the Americas slowed by 10 percentage points, while international departures from Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa each slowed by two percentage points, the data showed.

In terms of international arrivals, growth in travel bookings to all regions of the world has slowed, with the exception of Africa, which has continued to recover towards 2019 levels, the report showed.

Flight bookings to the Americas are down six percentage points, to Europe three percentage points, to Asia Pacific one percentage point and to the Middle East 26 percentage points, according to ForwardKeys.

Gazans flee north on foot as Israeli attacks continue

Gazans flee north on foot as Israeli attacks continue

Within the Middle East, Israel has suffered the most, with many airlines having cancelled flights, the report said.

In the period since October 7, flight bookings in the region have plummeted by 155 percentage points.

A fall in bookings of more than 100 per cent indicates a host of cancellations, depleting the existing stock of bookings, ForwardKeys said.

Tickets for international travel to Saudi Arabia were down 67 percentage points, Jordan down 54 percentage points, Lebanon down 45 percentage points and Egypt down 35 percentage points.

Flight bookings to GCC countries have declined by 25 percentage points since the war broke out, the report said.

Updated: November 12, 2023, 10:25 PM