DFWC reports full air traffic recovery in every region bar Asia Pacific

By Kristiane Sherry |

DFWC reports full air traffic recovery in every region bar Asia Pacific

DFWC reports a full air traffic recovery in 2023 for every region bar Asia Pacific.

Air traffic in every region of the world with the exception of Asia Pacific has now surpassed 2019 pre-pandemic levels, according to a Duty Free World Council (DFWC) report.

According to the DFWC 2023 Q4 KPI monitor, prepared by Swiss research agency m1nd-set, the Middle East is showing the strongest recovery. Traffic is now at 117% of pre-pandemic levels.

South America ranks second at 111% of 2019 volumes, followed by North America (104%) and Europe (102%).

Asia Pacific saw air travel recovery delayed by staggered reopenings, and now stands at 80% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers. 

As such, the global average sits just beneath 100% for the fourth quarter of the year, and 99% for the year. 

Top nationalities for international departures have changed little from Q3 into Q4. The US, UK, Germany and France remain the top four countries, ahead of Spain. Italy dropped from fifth to seventh place.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of India, Turkey, and the Netherlands. South Korea moves into 10th position, replacing China. 

Air traffic recovery does not translate to duty free shopping

Shopper behaviour has however seen “considerable” movement, according to the report. In Q4, 73% said they had planned their purchases, seven points higher than in Q3.

“It is not unusual to see higher levels of shopping planning during the pre-festive period seasons,” said Peter Mohn, m1nd-set CEO and Owner.

DFWC m1nd-set Total international 2023 passenger departures

DFWC and m1nd-set have released total international 2023 departing passenger numbers

“However, we see that as consumers have returned to the skies in greater numbers and are enjoying the travel experience and emotions that are generated by increasingly more inspiring airports and airport retail, that this is also having an impact on the tendency to plan airport shopping. 

“We see that the purchase motivation has evolved also, particularly when comparing to the same period in 2022. 

DFWC m1nd-set top airports and nationalities q3 2023

Dubai tops the airport rankings for September to November 2023

“Self-purchases have declined by 5% over the period. Purchases for sharing have also declined, while gift purchases and purchases made on request of friends and family have both increased between Q4, 2022 and the same period in 2023.”    

DFWC President Sarah Branquinho added: “Industry training programmes on customer service and engagement appear to be producing positive results, as staff interaction levels are on the rise once again after consistent declines over previous quarters. 

“The latest Monitor reveals that in Q4, 47% of shoppers globally interacted with sales staff, an increase of 3% on Q3 last year. The impact of staff interactions also rose moderately, from 68% in Q3 to 69% in Q4.

DFWC m1nd-set purpose and planning of purchases

Reasons for shopping in travel retail and duty free are shifting.

“We are still a long way from early post-pandemic engagement levels, however, which were at over 70%, with impact levels higher still. 

“The importance of quality training on staff interaction for improved customer engagement and the delivery of a world class customer experience, whether through the DFWC Academy or individual company staff training programmes, cannot be highlighted enough.”

Last year, DFWC celebrated its 10th anniversary at its AGM in Cannes.

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