European air travel in Q4 is tracking 24% down versus 2019 against -30% for global international travel, according to the latest ticketing data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys.
The performance across Europe betters the -30% reported for the continent in Q3, heard attendees to City Destinations Alliance’s Annual CEO Meeting of Capital & Major Cities 2022 in Valencia (20-21 November).
While international arrivals are leading the way in Southern Europe (-14%), it is Northern Europe (-20%), Western Europe (-26%) and Central and Eastern Europe (-55%) that are playing catch up.
Urban destinations heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis registered a 23% decrease in international arrivals in Q4 – aligned with the European average, shows the City DNA City Index.
Positive signs for Q1 2023
In Q4, London, Paris and Istanbul notch the highest number of international arrivals at -23%, -18% and +9%, respectively, in a sign that international travellers are finding their way back to Europe’s larger cities.
Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys, said: “Southern Europe is still leading the way and other parts of Europe are also making good progress as can be seen in Northern Europe during the popular winter season.
“On the flip side, the performances of Central and Eastern Europe are still negatively affected by the war in Ukraine, which is impacting not only on the countries directly involved but also on neighbouring destinations.
“The good results of Istanbul have been made possible by a rapid expansion of the destination’s air connectivity, a weak lira and a steady ‘open for business’ policy. Compared with 2019, Istanbul registers 6% more seats on international flights.”
Looking at 2023, Q1 international arrivals in Europe are tracking at -20 versus 2019 levels.
“The sustained recovery of international travel to European cities is very encouraging to see, after all the challenges our members have endured in the past years,” commented President of City Destinations Alliance, Petra Stušek.
“The return of travellers to our destinations puts international cooperation and sustainability at the centre of our strategy. We, and our Destinations Management Organisations (DMOs) members, are strongly committed to rebuilding tourism and making our destinations achieve an even higher quality of life and better possibilities for employment.”