Research by Travelport has revealed that advanced flight bookings to airports around Makkah ahead of this year’s Hajj have significantly increased from Asia, Europe and Oceania.
As part of its study, Travelport analysed the booking trends made through all global distribution systems (GDS) to King Abdulaziz International Airport, Ta’if Regional Airport and Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, as of Tuesday July 21, 2019, arriving from Tuesday July 9 to Thursday August 8.
Global vice president and global head of air travel partners, Travelport, Damian Hickey remarked: “There are many things that influence the decision to travel, especially when it comes to something as personal as performing the Hajj. For some, economic conditions and increased allocations from the government in Saudi Arabia could make this year the ideal time for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Others may be looking at their situation and thinking that it might be better to wait; this diversity of push and pull factors was certainly evident in the travel trends that we’ve seen around the globe.”
Asia recorded the greatest growth in flight bookings made through GDS to airports around Makkah this year in terms of volume, with bookings up by 11,284 (a rise of five per cent).
The most significant rise came from Bangladesh, with bookings up by 13,906 (+171 per cent).
The UAE brought forth the second highest rise, up 3,981 (+17 per cent); followed by Qatar, up 3,278 (+217 per cent), where pilgrims are now able to register for Hajj using dedicated electronic gates.
The greatest number of flight bookings made through a GDS in Asia were made in India (44,611). Overall, bookings made in Asia represented 64 per cent of total bookings globally.
Moving on, Europe recorded the second greatest growth in flight booking volume through GDS to airports around Makkah this year, with bookings up by 1,966 (a six per cent increase).
The UK brought forth the greatest volume of bookings and growth, up by 2,237 (+13 per cent) to 19,798, while second and third greatest increases in the region were all recorded off low bases from Bosnia and Herzegovina, up 562 (+173 per cent) and Sweden, up 310 (+168 per cent).
Bookings made in Europe represented 10 per cent of total bookings globally.
Advanced flight bookings from North America made through GDS to airports around Makkah were flat this year (bookings up by 221; a one per cent jump). The country that saw the greatest surge was Canada, with bookings up by 1,362 (+39 per cent). The largest number of bookings were once again made in the US (15,854).
South America witnessed a drop in flight bookings through GDS this year, with the volume down by 27 per cent. The country with the most bookings was Brazil (52 bookings), with an estimated 200 Brazilians expected to travel to perform Hajj this year. Bookings from the Americas represented six per cent of total bookings globally.
Flight bookings made via GDS to airports around Makkah from Africa were down by 17 per cent, due to a decrease in the number of bookings made in Egypt (-17 per cent). However, the North African country did still record the greatest number of flight bookings through GDS out of any country globally (49,477).
Morocco experienced the greatest growth in bookings in Africa this year, with volume up by 1,078 (+34 per cent). Notable increases were also seen in Niger (bookings up 870; +110 per cent), South Africa (bookings up 674; +33 per cent) and Nigeria (bookings up 520; +21 per cent). Bookings made in Africa represented 20 per cent of total bookings globally.
Finally, flight bookings made through GDS to airports around Makkah from Oceania were up 1,705 (+204 per cent) this year, which is a result of a rise in bookings from Australia, up 238 per cent to 2,344, from 1,650 in the previous year. At least 200 pilgrims have been invited to participate in Hajj from New Zealand. Bookings made in Oceania represented less than one per cent of total bookings globally.