Airline bookings slip after strong growth earlier in June, figures show

EU to launch digital Covid certificates which Government pledges to adopt from July 19th

European airline bookings slipped back in the week ending June 20th following a period of strong growth, new figures show.

The news comes as the EU prepares to formally launch digital Covid certificates, meant to restore free movement in the union, on Thursday, July 1st.

Figures from Bank of America's sky tracker show that bookings for flights within Europe in the week ended June 20th were 48 per cent of the same week in 2019.

That marked a decline from 52 per cent of 2019 levels reached in the week ending June 13th, the bank said.

However, its figures showed website activity continued to grow, up five percentage points to 72 per cent of 2019 levels, indicating that increasing numbers of Europeans planned on flying.

Bank of America noted that Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said booking recovery was strong despite recent confusion over restrictions.

Passenger numbers

The Irish group is due to report passenger figures for June in coming days. It had hoped to fly up to four million people during what is normally the first month of the summer peak.

Bank of America pointed out that the UK added 16 countries to its travel green list, including sunspots such as Malta and Spain's Balearic Islands, meaning returning holidaymakers will not have to quarantine.

However, it added that the British government sent mixed signals to its citizens by adding some nations to a green “watch” list.

The EU will formally launch its digital Covid certificates on Thursday, which the Government has pledged to adopt from July 19th.

That date is earmarked for an easing of Irish travel restrictions, widely criticised as the toughest in Europe.

Digital certificates will allow EU citizens who are vaccinated, immune or have proof of negative tests to travel freely within the union.

Europeans have a legal right to the certificates, which each member state must issue for free.

Vaccination certs

Minister of State Ossian Smyth said recently the Government would issue certificates to all those who had registered for vaccination through the health services portal, and to those who have been inoculated by GPs.

The Government will also be able to issue certificates to those who have recovered from the virus and is working on plans to validate labs providing PCR tests, used to diagnose if someone has the virus.

Aviation industry bodies this week warned that different approaches to the scheme among EU members threatened to undermine it.

Airlines for Europe, whose members include Ryanair, the International Air Transport Association and Airports Council International, of which State company DAA is a part, said the EU's 27 members were taking 10 different approaches to the scheme.

They said this could cause delays at airports, and called for certificates to be validated well ahead of passengers departing.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas