No one is in a hurry to book travel

SINGAPORE, 22 September 2020: New flight booking data released Monday by Amadeus, indicates the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting on flight bookings as passengers firm up travel dates on average just 17 days before their planned departure.

Indian travellers appear to opt for last-minute bookings making flight bookings on average only 10 days before their departure date between March-July 2020 – followed by Thais and Singaporean travellers, who have been making bookings on average 21 and 25 days prior to departure during the pandemic. Overall, there is very little travel other than for repatriation and business visits that are allowed under national travel bans regardless of the booking trends.

The Amadeus Travel Insights Bulletin also found that overall booking lead times for international and domestic flights combined have decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic across all10 of the APAC countries that were studied, except Malaysia where there has been no noticeable change.

India, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand have seen the most significant changes in traveller behaviour, with decreases of 68%, 54%, 53% and 51% respectively in flight booking lead times compared to pre-Covid-19 levels. Even in Japan – where booking lead times have remained the longest in the region at 53 days – the booking window has still contracted by 14% compared to before the pandemic.

“We expected that a greater number of passengers would prefer to book last minute in light of the uncertainties of changing travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and this has been borne out by our flight booking data across APAC,” said Amadeus Asia Pacific airlines executive vice president Cyril Tetaz.

Amadeus’ Covid-19 Travel Insights bulletin also looked into the impact that the pandemic has had specifically on domestic flight bookings. Whilst most markets in the region followed a similar pattern of condensed lead times for domestic flights in the Covid-19 era, travellers in Malaysia and the Philippines have so far bucked this trend.

In recent months, Malaysian travellers, in particular, have been making domestic flight bookings much further ahead than they were typically doing before the pandemic hit – booking domestic flights, on average, 51 days ahead of their departure date between March-July 2020, compared to the country’s average booking lead time of 28 days for domestic flights prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to Amadeus’ anonymized data, the same is true of Filipino travellers too, whose average booking lead time has increased by 22% for domestic flights during the pandemic. “We have seen the same pattern of much shorter lead times on domestic flight routes in APAC, Malaysia and the Philippines are two important exceptions where travellers are actually booking domestic flights further ahead than they previously would have done. This could, in part, reflect particularly strong concerns from Malaysian and Filipino travellers about the safety of travel and the security of domestic bookings,” said  Tetaz.