After two years of disrupted travel due to ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions, airlines and tour operators are once again bracing for closed skies, cancellations and a cloud of uncertainty over international travel.
Rising fuel prices will drive up travel prices
These price spikes will make any type of trip more expensive. Coupled with potentially longer air routes that require more fuel as they bypass closed Russian airspace, the higher prices will eventually have to be passed on to the consumer.
A spike in tariffs could lead to lower demand — and that’s bad news for an industry already struggling to make up for pandemic-related losses, let alone inflation.
Security fears could weaken demand
Rising fuel prices will inflate passenger tickets. As well as a drop in demand caused by fears of conflict.
STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
The EASA on Friday doubled the size of the warning zone around Ukraine, fearing that “medium-range missiles could enter controlled airspace”. The agency added, “in particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civilian aircraft.”
For many travelers and crew members already spooked by coronavirus concerns, the thought of flying anywhere near a conflict zone may be too much.
“It is likely that destinations close to Russia will suffer as consumers fear the proximity of war, even if this is irrational, based on no declared threat from Russia,” Olivier Ponti, vice-president, told CNN. president of analytics for travel analytics firm ForwardKeys. .
“The US market will likely be significantly deterred from visiting Eastern Europe and deterred, although not quite as much, from visiting Western Europe,” he added.
Covid-19 still exists and the refugee crisis could make it worse
We are still living in the midst of a global pandemic with country-specific travel and quarantine restrictions. Travel organizations had called on governments to lift Covid-19 travel restrictions as vaccinated societies hoped for a return to “normal”. However, the World Health Organization has warned the conditions on the ground in Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis will facilitate the spread of the coronavirus.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told CNN’s Matt Egan that his company is committed to helping address the refugee crisis.
“Anytime you disrupt society like this and literally displace millions of people, infectious diseases will exploit that,” said Dr Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program. , during a press conference on Wednesday.
“People are huddled together, they’re stressed and they’re not eating, they’re not sleeping properly. They’re very susceptible to impact, first of all by being infected themselves. And the disease is much more likely to spread .”
UNHCR says more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes and estimates that “up to four million people could leave the country in the coming weeks if the conflict continues”. The effects of a potential spread of the virus to neighboring countries could make governments less likely to ease Covid-19 restrictions, which will keep pressure on the travel industry.
Loss of tourist revenue
Turkey is one of the destinations that suffer many cancellations from Russian travelers.
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Everything changed with Russia’s war against its neighbour. The destinations that recorded the highest immediate cancellation rates during the period from February 24 to 26 are Cyprus (300%), Egypt (234%), Turkey (153%), United Kingdom (153%), Armenia (200%) and the Maldives (165%), company data shows. The absence of Russian tourists will deal a heavy blow to these heavily dependent tourist destinations.
No one likes uncertainty
Travel stocks are also seeing their share price drop. International Consolidated Airlines Group, owner of British Airways, lost 5% in February. Lufthansa shares have fallen 14% since Russian forces entered Ukraine, with British airline EasyJet painting a similar picture.
The uncertainty over what will happen next in the conflict is also making people think twice about planned or existing travel plans.
“We’ve had customers call in for reassurance about how their trip is going and to check our flexible booking policy,” Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel’s general manager for North America, told CNN.
“Intrepid Travel is not currently running any tours that visit Ukraine or Russia, but in the short term we expect European travel sales to slow,” he added.
Of course, the planned vacation is in no way comparable to the plight of the Ukrainian people and the huge humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding along its borders, but the impact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could have on an already fragile travel industry is an impact that could be felt far and wide. in the future.
Top image: The Aeroflot check-in counter at Los Angeles International Airport on March 2. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images