Russia-Ukraine conflict could slow summer travel to Europe

Now, what was looking like a great season is uncertain

Russia-Ukraine conflict could slow summer travel to Europe

As borders were reopened and international restrictions lifted, spring and summer looked great for European travel. Millions of tourists booked overseas flights, cruises, and tours.

The Russians invaded Ukraine.

These plans may now be being questioned by millions. A battered tourism industry, which was expecting a strong summer season, is now facing another round.

The Federal Aviation Administration extended the no-fly area in eastern Europe to all U.S. airlines on Thursday. This included Belarus and Ukraine as well as a portion of western Russia. Air travel worldwide is getting messier too. Russia has banned British flights from its airspace after Britain banned Russian Aeroflot flights to Britain.

According to the International Air Transport Association, many of these flights are being rerouted via nearby countries. However, the International Air Transport Association warned that closing additional airspace could have an impact on this scenario.

According to travel advisors, they have heard from travelers questioning whether to cancel their existing plans or book elsewhere. They say cancellations have not been a problem so far.

Erika Richter, spokesperson for the American Society of Travel Advisors, stated that "Given our rapidly changing circumstances, it's still too soon to tell."

However, some major travel companies aren't waiting to make decisions. They have already modified certain European itineraries, and they have stopped all other excursions.

Norwegian Cruise Line, one the largest cruise companies in the world, announced that it would be rerouting its trips around the Baltic to avoid Russian or Ukrainian ports. Viking Cruises issued a statement saying that it had made the difficult decision to cancel all 2022 departures from its Kiev, Black Sea, and Bucharest itinerary. Rick Steves, a travel writer and operator, stated in a blog that his company would cancel tours in Russia, but Europe would still be on the calendar. He said that it was important to consider geographic realities and to remember that a conflict in Ukraine is not as close to our European vacation plans as a conflict in Guatemala or Texas. "We don't see any reason to alter our travel and touring plans."

As uncertainty is created by the conflict in Ukraine, rapidly falling Covid rates as well as easing international restrictions have led to a steady increase in global travel demand.

According to CNBC, major U.S. airlines such as American, Delta, and United have more than doubled their transatlantic passengers' seats through August. JetBlue has increased its service between New York, Boston, and London. International airlines are expanding their service to the U.S. and new carriers like Iceland's low-budget airline Play have entered the market.

As capacity has increased, so have ticket prices.

Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott's Cheap Flights said that a round-trip ticket from Paris to Paris cost $600 two months ago. He said that unless you fly from New York City, it's unlikely you can find one for less than $750. Keyes stated that $900 will become the norm in a month, and that oil prices are rising, Keyes warned that flights may get more expensive as airlines pass higher fuel costs on to customers.

However, things can change very quickly. Keyes stated that "demand for international travel dropped sharply" in the hours following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Keyes noted that Kayak flight search data showed international travel searches fell 8 percentage points overnight after the war started, the steepest drop in several months. He said that if demand remains low, "expect to find cheaper fares to Europe or capacity cuts to transatlantic flights or both."

Despite the fact that prices can fluctuate, most experts in travel believe that pent-up demand will prevail after two years of being hampered by the pandemic.

Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer, a travel agency Live Well, Travel Often, says that she has many clients who travel to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and other countries. She said that although prices are high, people can accept it because they want to travel.

Tiffany Scott from Anchorage, Alaska feels the same. Two years ago, she waited to book a trip to Morocco that she partially paid for in 2019. She will be heading there next week, and plans to stop in France along the way. "Russian aggression of other European nations would be the only thing that could stop me from going to this point."