Skyscanner reveals the fastest leisure routes to collect

The latest insight into the world’s fastest recovery long-haul beach and sun destinations are out. For many European travelers, Mexico and the Maldives are trending above 2019 levels, while Orlando, Cancun and Dubai are among the top destinations. The results are based on global flight data from Skyscanner.

Skyscanner has explored the 100 fastest growing long-haul markets for leisure travel, showing where the fightback is really taking place. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Single flight.

Mexico and the Maldives leading the recovery

Mexico and the Maldives are responsible for six of the ten fastest growing international country pairs in the world, according to Skyscanner’s latest report. The company analyzed the top 100 and found that “redirects” from the Netherlands to the UAE increased by 190%.

Referrals are where the Skyscanner website sends a traveler to a travel provider to book a flight. There is a threshold of 1,000 redirects. Skyscanner uses this metric as a proxy for bookings, insisting it is a “strong indicator”.

Ranking Top 10 National Markets % difference in redirects: year to date (YTD) 2022 vs 2019
1 Netherlands in the United Arab Emirates 190%
2 Switzerland-Mexico 179%
3 Germany-Costa Rica 168%
4 Netherlands-Mexico 143%
5 Germany-Mexico 130%
6 Spain-Egypt 129%
seven Russia-Maldives 126%
8 UK-Maldives 125%
9 Colombia-Mexico 119%
ten Germany-Dominican Republic 114%

Increased capacity, new routes and more

The results presented above reflect the significant increase in demand for leisure during the pandemic. It also reflects capacity increases, with Europe to the Caribbean, Maldives and Mexico having more seats for sale in 2022 than ever before. Colombia to Mexico does too, thanks to the entry and growth of Viva, Vivaaerobus and Volaris – prices have fallen and demand has increased.

Several routes have started, including Iberia to Cairo and Luxor; Volaris from Bogota to Mexico City and Cancun; Eurowings Discover, Aer Lingus, Air Belgium and KLM to the Caribbean; and much more. SAS was about to start winter flights across Latin America, but they cannot be booked.

Virgin Atlantic said strong demand for rewards was fueling its Caribbean expansion, while British Airways returned to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. However, demand for the Maldives is perhaps best demonstrated by looking at Gulf carriers, which carry a disproportionate volume of passengers. This winter, departures to Dubai and Doha are up by a quarter, mainly thanks to Qatar Airways and flydubai. Male is currently Qatar Airways’ second largest market.

The Iberian Peninsula to Egypt
Iberia now serves Cairo and Luxor from Madrid. Photo: via ASE Group.

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Heathrow in Orlando ranks No. 1 in road level

A different picture emerges if long-haul leisure routes are examined at the airport level, with London Heathrow to Orlando taking the top spot. Redirects are up 245% from 2019. It’s obviously directly influenced by BA and Virgin now serving Orlando from the airport, with up to three daily flights. (Orlando also offers up to two daily flights from Gatwick.)

Ranking The 10 Best Airport Pairs % difference in YTD redirects 2022 vs 2019
1 London Heathrow to Orlando International 245%
2 London Heathrow – Cancun 222%
3 Frankfurt – Cancun 203%
4 Amsterdam – Cancun 200%
5 London Gatwick – Cancun 196%
6 Madrid – Cancun 172%
seven Amsterdam – Dubai 153%
8 Barcelona – Cancun 143%
9 Bogotá – Mexico City 139%
ten Edinburgh – Newark 115%

What about unserved routes?

Of the ten fastest growing markets shown above, only Heathrow in Cancun is unserved, while Gatwick in Cancun – which has non-stop connections – is also up sharply. Heathrow’s 222% increase is significant, but we don’t know the actual volume of referrals (and number of bookings) or what the prices were.

Nevertheless, it is intriguing. Some historical figures are useful for context. In 2019, around 55,000 people traveled between Heathrow and Cancun, making the Mexican resort town one of Heathrow’s biggest unserved long-haul markets. The market has grown by more than 40% in two years.

Since Cancun is so touristy, the downside is obvious. Booking data shows they paid an average of just $231 per way in 2019, excluding fuel surcharge (retained by the airline) and government taxes. That’s very little for a flight of nearly 5,000 miles (8,000 km). This is a similar situation to potential flypop routes to India from Stansted.

What do you think of the latest developments? Let us know in the comments.

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