The United Kingdom changes the ‘qualitative’ forecasts of the airline sector and airlines are already taking planes out of the British country


Antonio Ramirez Cerezo




Boris Johnson and his Covid-19 ‘traffic lights’ already transform the forecasts of the airlines, which put the British tourist as a key piece in the beginning of the recovery of the sector this summer. Because although the forecasts for the summer of the Air Lines Association (ALA) they do not fall from their initial data expected in the month of May -58% of the operations registered in the Spanish skies with respect to the same period of 2019-, “they do so qualitatively” as the president of the employer’s association tells ABC exclusively, Javier Gándara. “Domestic flights from the EU to Spain have increased this summer and those from third countries have dropped, especially from the United Kingdom, but quantitavely nothing changes,” says the director of Easyjet for southern Europe.

Thus, so far, the United Kingdom has only put Baleares in green and they will be airports like Palm of Mallorca the first to approach pre-pandemic levels. Specifically, according to ALA, that of the Balearic capital could be around 90% of the operations carried out in 2019. In fact, after knowing the inclusion of the archipelago in the British list of safe destinations on June 24, the reservations shot up to 3,000% in a few hours, as noted by the airline Jet2, to supply a contained demand that also wants to fly to other Spanish sun and beach destinations.

A claim from our main issuing market (22% of total visitors) that already existed for the months of June and July and that its loss already costs about four hundred million a week to Spanish tourism, according to Exceltur.

But for the moment, waiting for the good news to arrive on July 26 and the United Kingdom can eliminate quarantines upon the return of its citizens – it is initially considered that the ban will be opened to more than 32 million vaccinated with full schedule- the airlines are already moving their fleets towards the routes where they are registering the most interest within the EU. “Many companies that had scheduled flights between the United Kingdom and Spain are taking part of their planes and their crews to fly from other parts of Europe and Spain while waiting to enter the British green list,” he explains. Gandara.

This is the case, for example, of Easyjet that due to the loss of flights from the United Kingdom, it has shifted part of its planned operations to the Community market and, especially, to routes that connect Berlin with Palma de Mallorca and Germany with other destinations in Spain.

Gradual recovery

Either way, with or without British tourists, the recovery of the airline sector will be gradual, according to Gándara. In the first five months of the year, barely 20% of the operations were registered compared to 2019, with an average occupancy per plane of 60%, 25 points less than the pre-pandemic figures. In addition, Gándara points out that the recovery will be different depending on the weight of tourism in each place.

«The degree of recovery will vary from airport to airport. Some of the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands will recover sooner and it is likely that between 85 and 90% of the flights made in 2019 will be operated, while other aerodromes that receive fewer tourists may reach 65% or 70% “, details Gándara .

Thus, the forecast of the sector is that the summer will serve as a shuttle, and gain momentum later with the Canary high season starting in November “and ideally next year the recovery will begin to consolidate so that in 2023 and 2024 the pre-pandemic data can be recovered,” concludes Gándara.

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