ForwardKeys data reveals that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted an instant spike in flight cancellations to and from Russia, with every booking made for travel to Russia outweighed by six cancellations of pre-existing bookings since the start of the conflict.
The highest cancellation came from Germany (773%), France (472%), Italy (152%), the UK (254%), India (285%) and Turkey (116%).
Russian outbound travel suffered high immediate cancellation rates as well, with Cyprus (300%), Egypt (234%), Turkey (153%), the UK (153%), Armenia (200%), and the Maldives (165%) seeing the bulk of the effect.
Prior to the invasion, Russian outbound flight bookings for March to May had recovered to 32% of pre-pandemic levels, with some holiday hotspots doing exceptionally well. Flight bookings were ahead from 2019, led by Mexico (427%), Seychelles (279%), Egypt (192%) and the Maldives (115%). Summer months, July and August, was significantly stronger with flight bookings ahead of 2019 levels.
Russian arrivals in countries such as the Seychelles, the Maldives and Cyprus represent a high percentage of all international arrivals. The collapse in Russian travel will have damaging consequences on their tourism-dependent economies. Countries like Armenia, which depends on Russia for 47% of all visitors, Azerbaijan 44%, Uzbekistan 34%, Bulgaria 18%, the Seychelles 16%, the Maldives 15% and Cyprus 13%, will stand to suffer most.
Before the outbreak of war, the top 20 destinations most booked by Russian travellers in March, April and May were, in order of total bookings, Turkey, the UAE, the Maldives, Thailand, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, Armenia, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Hungary, Bulgaria, Mexico, Spain, Azerbaijan, the US, the UK, Qatar, Italy and Uzbekistan.
The Russian tourism economy was beginning to revive from the pandemic and Russian domestic flight bookings for March, April and May were running 25% ahead of pre-pandemic levels. However, new bookings fell 77%, analysed on a week-on-week basis.
Olivier Ponti, vice president insights, ForwardKeys, said: “The outbreak of war always has a hugely damaging impact on the travel industry; and that is what we are seeing here, with mass cancellations in flight bookings to and from Russia. There will also be serious impacts on destinations that depend heavily on Russian visitors.
“Of course, should there be a cease fire and successful peace talks, the outlook for travel should improve.”