The desire to travel is strong, and consumer demand for leisure and business travel, measured by flight bookings, accelerated meaningfully early this year, leading analysts to believe that the market is on its way to real recovery for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
The MasterCard Economics Institute’s third annual travel report, which was released this week, has revealed that the number of global air passengers is expected to increase in 2022 compared with 2021.
Passenger numbers could increase by more than one billion travellers if the upward business travel trend continued for the rest of the year.
The report also showed that for the first time since the pandemic, flight bookings for business travel exceeded 2019 levels, marking a key milestone in the recovery.
There had also been a change to destinations as people had started booking travel further from home. Long-haul leisure travel shot up to just 7% below pre-pandemic levels by the end of April.
Throughout 2021, travelling by car was the preferred mode of transport but now buses, cruises and trains are seeing an uptick in bookings, while consumer spending has shifted towards restaurants, bars and recreational activities.
“If flight bookings continue at their current pace, an estimated 1.5 billion more passengers globally will fly in 2022 compared with last year,” the report said.