International outbound flights from Spain were up by 2.7% last year, and the biggest increase was in departures to Asia Pacific countries, a trend that looks like continuing into 2017, according to ForwardKeys, the travel intelligence analyst, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 16 million flight reservation transactions each day.
Passengers to Asia Pacific destinations were up by 15.7% on the previous year, many countries seeing double-digit growth: China up 13%; Japan 16%; India 17% and Vietnam 32%.
Much of the increase can be attributed to certain airlines dramatically increasing their capacity to the region – up 38% in 2016. And further increases in capacity are scheduled for this year, according to ForwardKeys.
The growth in capacity is partly due to Chinese seeing Spain as a safe and attractive destination, and as a result creating capacity on return flights, creating the opportunity for Spanish consumers to travel on new direct routes to Asia.
Total international scheduled capacity from Spain will increase by 9.3% in the first half of this year but to Asia by 163%.
Growth started in the second half of last year, aided by Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong – Madrid), Iberia (connecting Madrid with Shanghai and Tokyo) and China Eastern (Madrid –Shanghai); however, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, dropped routes.
The landscape for next six months is still evolving, with new players and routes, including Delhi (Air India), Seoul (Korean Air) and Chengdu (Beijing Capital Airlines).
Latin America and North America also welcomed increased departures from Spain, although travel-agent bookings to other European destinations were down 1.6%.
Easter remains a favourite time to travel from Spain, but departures peak in July and August, accounting for 23% of the yearly total. Christmas travel is also on the increase.
Most of the travellers are late bookers – 52% of them only a month-and-a-half before the trip, even for the Easter holidays, although they plan more than two months in advance for summer and Christmas. By region, the longest pre-booking times are, Oceania, 151 days, and South East Asia, 101 days.
The average length of stay in the Asia Pacific region was 18 days and many of the travellers were couples, according to ForwardKeys. The average stay in Europe was six days; 22 in Latin America and 13 in North America.