British Airways has seen revenue from its long-haul services overtake that of short-haul flights in recent months. The figures come as Europe deals with its second COVID-19 wave that has proven to be more deadly than the first.
Across Europe, airlines are continuing to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19. While some airlines saw traffic recover to as much as 70% of 2019’s flight numbers, this wasn’t long-lived. As summer changed to autumn and winter, the second wave of COVID-19 swept Europe, bringing with it a host of new lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Long-haul overtakes short-haul
For many European airlines, the summer of 2020 was a summer where short-haul was king. While many long-haul destinations remained unattractive due to strict travel restrictions, much of Europe was open to tourism at the height of summer. According to data from British Airways, around 64% of its revenue came from short-haul travel in July.
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However, as Europe started to lockdown once more, this began to drop. Towards the end of the summer, the UK quickly became a hotspot, with Germany designating the entire country a risk area on October 22nd, 2020. As the portion of short-haul travelers dropped, so did its share of the revenue.
In November, short-haul travel accounted for just around 20% of the airline’s revenue, falling to approximately 12% in January. 23% came from North American-bound travelers, while the remaining 65% came from the airline’s other long-haul routes.
What about the airline’s flight schedule?
The drop in revenue from short-haul flights roughly equates to a decline in the airline’s flight schedule. According to data from Radarbox.com, in the last week of October, the airline was operating around 483 flights a week, down 38% from 2019’s numbers. This fell sharply to just 150 in the second week of November and 126 daily flights two weeks later.
Unfortunately, a bump in pre-Christmas travel was short-lived. In the week of December 17th-23, the airline operated around 305 flights a day. However, this quickly fell as numerous countries banned travel from the UK over virus mutation fears. Since then, the situation has continued to deteriorate as the UK remains in its third lockdown. Last week the airline averaged 110 daily flights, down 85.7% from this time last year.
Travel can recover quickly
However, it’s not all bad news. Data from the airline’s owner IAG shows just how quickly travel can bounce back when reopened. At the height of summer 2020, new domestic travel bookings in Spain had reached almost half of the previous year.
Earlier this week, the UK suggested that travel could resume after May 17th, pending a review to be held in mid-April. This led to a massive surge in new British Airways bookings, growing even more significant the next day. However, it wasn’t just British Airways that felt the effect of the announcement.
Did you realize that long-haul travel currently accounts for most of British Airways’ revenue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!