Airlines in Spain are already teasing closely a return to the old normal before the virus spread, according to the balance and estimates published by the Airlines Association (ALA) on Wednesday.
Easter is over, and the data is still preliminary, with 83% of all flights operated on the same dates in 2019. Airlines have set roughly the same number of seats for the summer and occupations are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels early in the year. 2023, one year before the estimated recovery date for the international sector.
Air shipments have already reached pre-Covid levels
The tailwind blowing in favor of recovery is due to the weight of the sectors that show the greatest dynamism in the face of the pandemic: vacation tourism and visits to friends and family.
In addition, the air cargo sector “gave a lot of joy,” as emphasized by the president of the ALA, Javier Gandara, during the presentation of these findings. According to the organization’s data, in the winter, between November 2021 and March 2022, the equivalent of 99% of the goods before the pandemic were transported.
Domestic flights are still driving demand, but what sows optimism in this sector is the consistency of the recovery of short and long-haul international flights, after the end of restrictions in major destinations such as the United Kingdom or the United States. . join. “The asymmetry that has collapsed in recent years between national flights that have grown and international flights that have been left behind. Everything indicates that we are facing a steady trend towards recovery,” emphasized Gandara.
Promotion of international trips
Looking back at the summer, optimism continues. Although he prefers to be “cautious, because we have many concerns in recent years”. In any case, airlines operating in Spain have designated 212 million seats for the summer season, just 0.4% less than planned for the summer of 2019.
In major holiday destinations such as the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, programming exceeded 10.6% and 8.6% respectively for 2019. The same does not happen in the destinations more closely related to business tourism, where the recovery slows further behind. Thus, the number of scheduled flights in Madrid is 7.5% less than in 2019 and in Barcelona also 11.5% less than in 2019. This does not mean that they are bad numbers because as Gándara calls us to remember, “2019 was the record year in the entire history of Spanish tourism”.
Balearic and Canary Islands, over 2019
The frequency of these numbers will depend on how customers ultimately behave, and therefore occupancy levels. For this, they reiterated their demands from the ALA to the government to facilitate the arrival of non-EU tourists, remembering that the UK is now a non-European country and therefore subject to the controls required for this profile.
“It makes no sense that it is not allowed to enter Spain through diagnostic tests and that a certificate of vaccination or recovery is mandatory. Gandara warned that these requirements could divert tourists to other destinations and we should not allow this.
Another problem facing the sector next summer is the return to saturation of airports due to the lack of personnel for access control. “This Easter, more than 3,000 passengers have lost flights or connections due to these delays. Images of saturated airports can cause a lot of damage at a time when customers have to choose their holiday destination”, asserts the head of Spain’s major airlines.
Gándara also warns that this problem may be exacerbated as France plans to change the organization of its flights, which will affect the control center in Marseille, with a significant impact on flights arriving in Spain and which may have a special impact on the operation of Barcelona Airport.
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