Vaccine fuels holiday bookings surge as travel firms see enquiries shoot up by 75% after Pfizer jab announcement… compared last week’s doom and gloom
- Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary forecast a return to 75-80% of pre-crisis capacity
- Many firms reported interest being highest for the New Year after jab roll-out
- Pfizer news is a chink of light for industry that has been battled by the pandemic
News of Pfizer’s successful vaccine has seen holiday bookings surge, with enquiries shooting up 75 per cent in a week as sun seekers hope for a brighter 2022.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary forecast a return to 75-80% of pre-crisis short-haul flight capacity by next summer as the travel industry takes off again.
Many companies reported interest being highest for the New Year after the vaccine’s mass roll-out in December – although health experts have urged caution and urged people to continue following restrictions.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary forecast a return to 75-80% of pre-crisis short-haul flight capacity by next summer as the travel industry takes off again
Luxury holiday company Best at Travel said inquiries had risen 75% week-on-week, with bookings for December up by 33%.
Explore, an adventure operator, reported a 71% increase, according to The Times.
O’Leary told the vaccine news as the ‘first bit of sunshine we’ve had for the past 12 months’, as he upped his traffic forecast for next summer to 75-80% from the 50-80% range he had given eight days earlier.
‘There’s reasonable optimism now that summer 2021 will get back to some degree of normality,’ he told the WTM Virtual travel conference, a day after Pfizer said its experimental Covid vaccine was 90% effective in trials.
Shares in Ryanair – Europe’s biggest airline, jumped nearly 9.5% after Pfizer’s reaction, but O’Leary denied the stock market reaction had been premature.
‘The stock market tends to look forward anyway,’ he said. ‘It’s only one of three or four vaccines that will be licensed this side of Christmas and there are multiple vaccines in final, phase-three testing.’
O’Leary told the Pfizer vaccine news as the ‘first bit of sunshine we’ve had for the past 12 months’
He predicted Europe would see ‘an enormous snap-back’ in intra-European beach holiday travel as soon as confidence returns.
‘Mrs O’Leary is very keen to get back to the Algarve, and I suspect she’ll be there about 2.5 nanoseconds after the restrictions are lifted,’ he said.
Travel industry job losses due to Covid by date of announcement
May 28 – EasyJet – 4,500 worldwide
May 13 – Tui – 8,000 worldwide
May 12 – Carnival UK (owns P&O Cruises and Cunard) – 450
May 11 – P&O Ferries – 1,100 worldwide
May 5 – Virgin Atlantic – 3,150
May 1 – Ryanair – 3,000 worldwide
April 28 – British Airways – 12,000
‘Frankly I think she’s reflective of the overwhelming majority of Europe’s population.’
Other travel shares also benefited from Monday’s announcement, with BA’s parent group IAG shooting up 40 per cent to 146p amid a wider FTSE rally.
Many travel operators have already cancelled their Christmas schedules for this year, including Tui, which has put all its Lapland holidays on ice.
P&O Cruises has cancelled all bookings until spring next year but told MailOnline it had seen ‘strong demand’ for its 2022 schedule.
Meanwhile, Twitter users posted about booking holidays following the vaccine news.
Holidays have been outlawed in England during this month’s lockdown, and when restrictions the previous system of quarantining countries with high infection rates is expected to return.
The restrictions have battered the holiday industry and sparked a wave of job losses across the sector.
Just 200,000 people flew into UK airports each month during April, May and June as thousands had to cancel holidays and remain at home in lockdown.
The opening of ‘air bridges’ to dozens of countries around the world in recent weeks then saw air traffic increase six-fold in July, though the 1.3 million arrivals represents just a tenth of the number who flew into Britain 12 months previously.
EasyJet cut 4,500 jobs worldwide in May and was expected to cut a further 418 in Germany, almost halving its fleet in Berlin as a result of the cuts to its flight schedule.
BA, whose owner suffered a £5.1 billion loss in the first nine months of 2020, slashed a third of its global workforce, amounting to 12,000 roles.
Twitter users posted about booking holidays following the vaccine news. Holidays are currently outlawed in England due to the lockdown
Meanwhile, at least 20 travel companies with UK operations have collapsed since March, according to the industry body,
Last night travel industry figures told the Times they were cautiously optimistic about the Pfizer news but warned the government was ‘unlikely to have the confidence to open up travel’ until mass vaccination had been rolled out.
But Derek Moore, deputy chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, was more positive.
He said: ‘Perception is all-important to the travelling public and the news that there has been a vaccine breakthrough might well lift many people’s spirits, as indeed it has done for the market.
Positive news like this can give the travelling public a feeling that there might actually be light at the end of the tunnel, and at the moment that is more important than exactly when and how a vaccine will be available.’
Ryanair planes parked on the tarmac before the closure of Brussels Airport at the start of the pandemic in March
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