With only days to go before we reach 2020, what lies in store for the travel industry as a new decade begins?
This year has been pretty tumultuous for the travel industry, with the failure of the UK’s oldest tour operator, Thomas Cook, and the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit coupled with a weak pound that’s continued to impact holidaymakers’ purchasing power abroad.
While the industry hopes to enjoy more placid waters during 2020 and a much-needed period of stability and clarity to bolster consumer confidence, what are the trends that will shape travel’s key sectors and destinations over the next 12 months? We take a look at trends across different sectors.
The impact of the loss of Thomas Cook Airlines is set to have a profound effect on the industry during 2020 and beyond - particularly at its largest airports, Manchester and Gatwick, where the airline provided 1.17 million and 700,000 seats respectively during the summer 2019 season, according to airline data firm OAG.
Other airlines have moved quickly to fill some of this lost capacity, with Tui Airways adding two million seats for next summer and Jet2.com another 700,000 seats.
Jet2 has already purchased Cook’s former slots at Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted airports from the official receiver, while easyJet has done the same at Gatwick and Bristol.
But Cook was far from the only airline failure in 2019, with smaller carriers such as flybmi and Wow Air also going out of business earlier in the year.
Another brand set to disappear from the UK skies in 2020 will be Flybe, which will be renamed Virgin Connect following the airline’s purchase by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Aviation.
The development of Virgin Connect will be closely watched, particularly after the previous closure of the Virgin Little Red short-haul operation in 2015.
Further consolidation in the aviation industry is also set to be a trend in 2020 as larger airline groups snap up a dwindling number of smaller independent carriers, such as the recent €1 billion deal for British Airways’ parent firm International Airlines Group to buy Spanish airline Air Europa, which has an extensive South American route network.