Half-term holiday bonanza: Britons flock abroad with departures soaring 44 per cent
Britons are capitalising on the first restriction-free February half-term in two years to flock abroad, according to new data.
Figures released today by aviation analytics firm Cirium showed that departures during the coming half term are up 44 per cent on last year’s levels, as 15,455 flights are scheduled to take off from UK airports between 11 and 19 February.
This is up 731 per cent on 2021 numbers – when the world was still locked up as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – but still 19 per cent down on the 19,136 departing flights registered in 2019.
Travel expert Rob Staines told City A.M. the figures represent “a dramatic rise in consumer confidence.”
“Recovery was never going to happen overnight, but given the circumstances they are good news generally,” he added.
Staines’ words were echoed by Hargreaves Lansdown’s lead equity analyst Sophie Lund-Yates, who said this is “a real boost to the travel sector which has been badly burned in recent years”.
“Despite the ongoing cost of living crisis, it’s clear that Brits are still committed to getting away after years of travel disruption,” she told City A.M.
“It seems the discretionary income that’s left behind every month is being funnelled towards experiences rather than things.”
Data showed that a majority of people will opt for European gateways, as Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris are among the most popular destinations.
While Easyjet, with 3,126 departures scheduled, will be the busiest airline during the holiday period, followed by British Airways and Ryanair.
The carrier made the headlines last month when its chief executive Johan Lundgren said Easyjet was well-equipped to face an uncertain macroeconomic environment, plagued by a looming recession.
“We see a strong booking momentum, as customers prioritise spending on their holidays,” Lundgren told journalists on 25 January.
“And in this high cost of living environment, customers are looking for value.”
Nevertheless, analysts are wary of demand levels coming down as higher costs of living bite into people’s pockets.
“At some point people’s spending power will be eroded, and pent up holiday demand will start to unwind,” Lund-Yates said.
“That’s not to say a crash in demand is imminent, but a level of rebasing is to be expected.”