A significant fall in the cost of long-haul travel and a boom in the number of available flights led to a 29% rise in the number of bookings by European travellers this year, according to online travel company eDreams ODIGEO.
Its European Traveller Insights Report 2017 showed long-haul fares fell 7% this year – down from an average of €610 in 2016 to an average of €569 return.
The average cost of a long-haul flight from the UK was £551 for the first nine months of the year to the end of September, £95 less than last year.
Singapore tops the list of destinations with the biggest forward-booking growth in 2018, rising 163% so far. San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles also made the top list as each has seen a drop in the cost of flights by 19%, 12% and 17% respectively this year, according to eDreams.
“Airlines across Europe are increasingly engaging in a transatlantic price war, with for example low-cost carrier Norwegian selling flights from the UK and Ireland to America from as little as £69 one way or £138 return,” it said.
According to the Centre for Aviation, 15 long-haul, low-cost airlines have launched since 2012, the latest being IAG’s Level. EDreams said these carriers were providing ‘stiff price competition’ to the more established long-haul carriers, and driving prices down across the board.
Additional budget flights to ’emerging destinations’ such as the Azores, the host of this year’s ABTA Travel Convention, is also driving demand, said eDreams
Terceira Island in the Azores has seen bookings rise 155% from Europe, while to Port Delgada bookings are up 61%. Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro has seen an 83% rise, Gdansk in Poland is up 77% and Salzburg in Austria is up 75%.
The second Insight report from eDreams also showed that European capitals that had suffered recent terror attacks, including London, had bounced bank this year. London retained its status at the most popular destination for Europeans, having seen a 24% rise in visitors from Europe, while Berlin saw a 10% rise and Paris visitor numbers were up 4%.
London also became the most popular destination for domestic travel this year, rising from fourth position in 2016.
Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO, said: “As the largest online travel agency in Europe, serving over 18 million travellers each year, we have a deep understanding of European traveller preferences.~
“Throughout 2016 and 2017 a number of challenging headwinds emerged but our bookings data shows that the online travel sector has remained resilient. The outlook for the sector is optimistic, with travellers across Europe and the UK remaining eager to visit perennial favourites such as London, as well as exploring further flung destinations such as New Delhi and Singapore.
“In particular, we’ve seen an increase in travellers taking advantage of more low-cost options for long-haul flights and new routes opening in Europe. The additional choices presented by new market entrants for both short-haul and long-haul travel are welcome news to consumers and the travel industry.”