The Cyprus Mail has taken an informal poll of how tourist airline bookings for the island are shaping up. Here’s what we found:
Easyjet from the UK: Bookings from London were sold out from July 8, the date flights re-open, to July 28.
Lufthansa: About half of the flights available were sold out, and those with seats that had less than five seats could still be purchased.
Wizzair: Flights from Dortmund were nearly sold out, with only a few seats available. From Vienna, however, most flights had good availability.
Ryanair: Flights from Brussels to Larnaca had limited availability, five seats or fewer remaining.
These informal observations seem to tally with analyst views, which now see the green shoots of recovery. That restart is being helped along by meager prices.
“Ryanair is slashing flight prices by more than half and operating at a loss over the next year in a major attack on struggling rivals,” boss Michael O’Leary has revealed in an interview.
The Ryanair strategy is “pile them high, sell them cheap” in a massive sales blitz to lure passengers. Then O’Leary plans to acquire flight routes from competitors as they fail, unable to compete with such low fares.
Other low-cost airlines seem to be taking a low-cost approach as well, however.
Easyjet Commercial Officer Robert Carey said: “We’re passionate about helping our customers get back flying, which is why we’re offering one million seats at £29.99 for those planning on booking a holiday this summer.”
Now we are aware that airlines aren’t able to book their entire flights, as social distancing has to be maintained among passengers.
Nonetheless, these numbers correlate with analyst views on the start of a rise in tourist traffic aboard European airlines.
“We see a very modest recovery,” writes the Centre for Aviation.
The decline in seat numbers has slowed. In the week commencing June 15, 2020, seat numbers in Europe are down by 81.6 percent year-on-year,
which is 1.5 ppts narrower than last week’s 86.3 percent drop, according to OAG combined schedules with CAPA Fleet Database seat configurations.
There has been an increase in seat capacity. Total European seat capacity was scheduled to be 6.6 million in the week of June 15, 2020.
This is a 20.4 percent increase week-on-week and 81.6 percent below the 36.0 million seats of the equivalent week a year ago in 2019, according to the data from OAG/CAPA.
The total is split between 2.8 million domestic seats, versus 8.2 million last year, and 3.8 million international seats, versus 27.8 million in 2019.
According to the analyst, this continues the modestly improving trend since the period between mid- April and late May. The underlying rate of reduction was in the region of 90 percent, after adjusting for a false start in Ryanair’s schedules data.
So, even allowing for social distancing, the numbers are encouraging for Cyprus’s beleaguered tourist industry. The government hopes to bring at least 30 percent of the usual amount of tourists who visit the island in the summer.