As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, even with numerous difficulties still being faced by airlines, air travel to Southeastern Europe throughout the summer season so far has significantly exceeded pre-pandemic levels. This also includes Croatian tourist season air traffic levels.
Both Turkey and Greece exceeded the levels of arrivals of international visitors they recorded back before the pandemic struck by 9 percent and 2 percent respectively, and of the capital cities, Istanbul had the strongest growth of 2 percent compared to 2019, according to an analysis by ForwardKeys.
Most guests are from Germany
The number of arrivals to nearby Albania has also increased by as much as 28 percent, although it only accounts for 1 percent of the market share in all European air arrivals. All other countries are still in the red compared to the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, and neighbouring Slovenia has seen the smallest drop of a mere 7 percent compared to the pre-pandemic period, followed by Iceland with a drop of 8 percent, and Portugal, which lags behind by 10 percent.
According to the latest published data published by the Croatian Statistical Institute, the number of air passenger arrivals to Croatia fell by 11 percent in July alone.
In the period from January to July this year, 5.1 million passengers were recorded as having passed through Croatian airports, equal to 81 percent of the country’s pre-pandemic traffic, with the largest number of passengers in the first seven months of 2022 being recorded from Germany, followed by the United Kingdom and then France.
In July this year, the highest level of Croatian tourist season air traffic was achieved by Split Airport, followed by Dubrovnik Airport and then Zagreb Airport. The most significant amount of international passenger traffic was achieved with British airports, which accounts for almost seven times more than last year, when the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic were in effect.
When it comes to European cities, Athens had 7 percent less arrivals by plane in July and August than it did back in 2019, Reykjavik and Porto saw drops of 8 percent, and Malaga saw a considerable drop of 13 percent.
The main drivers of air traffic growth for Turkey are the constant decline in the value of the Turkish lira and its openness to the Russian market, from where direct flights to most of Europe are prohibited.
Departures within Europe were 22 percent lower
European destinations could have attracted more visitors during the summer months this year if the airline industry had coped better with the surge in travel demand during the late spring and early summer. If there had been no disruption, ForwardKeys estimates that the recovery of flight reservations within Europe would have been five percentage points higher. An analysis of departure markets reveals that within Europe, Greece has proven to be the most resilient, with departures to European destinations in July and August at 2019’s impressive levels.
Poland saw a minus of 9 percent compared to 2019, Spain saw a drop of 12 percent, the UK saw one of 13 percent, Denmark saw a drop of 14 percent and Portugal had a drop of 15 percent. In total, departures within Europe were reduced by 22 percent. The strongest non-European market was the USA, with only a 5 percent drop compared to 2019. It was followed by Colombia and Israel, both with 9 percent.
The outlook for the next three months is optimistic, despite the still unstable circumstances. As of August the 31st, there were 21 percent less flight reservations when compared to the same period back in 2019, and the exceptions were once again Greece and Turkey, which both enjoyed a higher number of reservations than they did back in 2019, of 5 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.