The coronavirus pandemic has affected no industry more than travel. As countries shut their borders and planes were grounded, the industry came to a standstill. Now, as borders cautiously reopen and consumers consider travelling again, airlines and holiday companies are having to navigate a very different post-Covid landscape.
There has of course been an immediate impact. Companies from British Airways to Hays Travel to Airbnb have been cutting jobs, reducing wages and minimising costs.
Advertising budgets have not been immune. In the UK alone, travel and transport companies cut spend by £138m between 23 March and the end of June, according to Nielsen. Google, meanwhile, posted its first ever ad revenue decline in the second quarter as the likes of Booking.com and Expedia pulled back on search spend.
The scale of the challenge is exemplified by EasyJet where passenger numbers and revenues plummeted by 99.6% in the second quarter of the year. That led it post a loss of £324.5m, compared to a profit of £174.2m in 2019.
Yet there are green shoots of recovery. EasyJet says demand levels are higher than expected since lockdown restrictions were eased. That has led it to expand its schedule in the fourth quarter to around 40% of its normal capacity.
For travel, perhaps more than for any other sector, the situation is complex. The data changes as quickly as coronavirus rules with attitudes equally as difficult to pinpoint. People were opening up to the idea of holidays, only for the UK to give six hours’ notice of new quarantine rules for those in Spain.