Flight prices to Egypt’s Red Sea have dropped to less than £35 return as airlines slash prices to try to stimulate business.
Travel analytics firm ForwardKeys, which revealed the figures, says the negative impact on aviation has also spread well beyond the Middle East, with global air travel in the last quarter of the year predicted to be down 7 per cent as a result of the conflict.
The firm compared flight bookings in the three weeks before the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October with the same spell afterwards.
Apart from Israel – which is on the UK government’s “no-go” list – the worst effect is on flights to Saudi Arabia, which are down by 67 per cent. Few British holidaymakers visit the kingdom.
More significant is the 54 per cent fall in bookings to Jordan, which would normally expect a buoyant winter.
Shortly after the war began, easyJet cancelled its planned winter link between London Gatwick and Aqaba on Jordan’s Red Sea shore.
At the start of the airlines’ winter season from 29 October, 10 services from UK airports to Egypt were launched on airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air.
Fares for some of the new links, such as Belfast International to Hurghada, are selling at unprecedented low prices. Return flights from Northern Ireland to the Red Sea have been selling for £34.47 return, with one inbound flight on 2 December priced at £10.83 one way – a rate of 0.4p per mile for the 2,762-mile flight.
The slump in ticket sales is evident in the figures for travel to the region, which include bookings made outside the three-week window.
Three weeks before 7 October, travel to the Middle East was 13 per cent up on 2019 levels. Today, it is 13 per cent down.
Olivier Ponti, the ForwardKeys vice-president for insights, said: “This war is a catastrophic, heartbreaking, human tragedy that we are all seeing daily on our TV screens.
“That is bound to put people off travelling to the region, but it has also dented consumer confidence in travelling elsewhere too.”
Last week Darrell Wade, chair and co-founder of tour operator Intrepid Travel told The Independent that some travellers were keen to avoid the region:…