International air travel is down worldwide since the war in Israel began

Flight bookings to locations across the Middle East plummeted during the first three weeks of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to a Forward Keys analysis. 

International bookings on a global scale also dipped beginning with the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

“This war is a catastrophic, heartbreaking, human tragedy that we are all seeing daily on our TV screens,” Forward Keys vice president of insight Oliver Ponti said in a prepared remark. “That is bound to put people off traveling to the region, but it has also dented consumer confidence in traveling elsewhere, too. As of Oct. 6, bookings showed that global air travel in the last quarter of the year, Q4, would reach 95% of its 2019 level, but as of Oct. 27, the outlook has fallen back by 7 percentage points and stands at 88%.”

As expected, the Forward Keys analysis shows that travel to Israel has dwindled dramatically. Bookings to the country were down 23% in the three weeks prior to Oct. 7 compared with 2019. In the three weeks that followed, they were down 178%. Bookings are able to fall by more than 100% because the figure also accounts for cancellations, which deplete the stock of existing bookings.

Other Middle Eastern countries also had steep drop-offs in incoming bookings with the onset of the war. Over the following three weeks, bookings to Lebanon, where the terrorist organization Hezbollah has exchanged rocket fire with Israel, dropped 45 percentage points compared with a 2019 baseline. The declines for Jordan and Egypt, both of which border Israel, were 54 percentage points and 35 percentage points. 

For Saudi Arabia, incoming bookings were up 75% in the three weeks prior to Oct. 7 compared to 2019, but plummeted 67 percentage points compared to the 2019 baseline in the three weeks that followed.

Overall, using the 2019 baseline, bookings to the Middle East fell 26 percentage points during that time period, Forward Keys found. 

Meanwhile, outbound bookings from other parts of the world also fell, though at smaller rates. Aside from the Middle East, the Americas saw the largest dip, with a 10-point decline in outbound bookings relative to a 2019 baseline.

Globally, international bookings trailed 2019 by 15% during the three weeks before Oct. 7. That number jumped to 20% during the following three weeks, according to Forward Keys.

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