Asia-Pacific will drive demand for air travel over the next two decades, according to the 2018 Air Travel Outlook report produced by Expedia in collaboration with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).
Based on the International Air Transport Association’s 20-year air passenger forecast, air travel routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific will see an extra 2.1 billion annual passengers by 2036 — an average growth rate of 4.6%.
China is expected to displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market by 2022, while India will overtake Britain, currently ranked fifth, by 2025, with Indonesia catching up by 2030.
Thailand is anticipated to enter the world’s top 10 largest aviation markets during the forecast period.
For most air travellers, booking more than 30 days ahead of the departure date results in cheaper airfares. Booking on a Sunday for a departure on a Thursday or Friday is another way of finding good prices, the report said.
Thailand is a notable exception to this trend. For Thailand, the lowest air ticket prices can be found when booking an international economy flight on a Saturday for departure on a Thursday. A similar phenomenon occurs in Australia, Sri Lanka and Singapore.
In terms of the best months to book international economy travel, the lowest rates have historically been found at these times: January for international economy travel from Japan; February for international economy travel from Indonesia; March for international economy travel from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore; November for international economy travel from South Korea and Thailand; and December for international economy travel from China.
For most premium air travel (first and business class), booking more than 30 days ahead also tends to result in cheaper airfares. On average, the cheapest days to book these more expensive tickets are Saturday or Sunday for travel on a Friday or a Sunday. This is true across regions.
The difference in the premiums paid for purchasing airfares on the most expensive day versus the cheapest day of week can range from 15% to 120% for international flights.
This is likely driven by corporate travellers’ buying behaviour, as corporate travellers are less likely to book business travel on weekends when they are not at work, according to Expedia and ARC.
June saw the highest prices for Australian and New Zealand travellers, while the months between April and September had the highest international travel premiums in most parts of Asia.
Most of Asia’s busiest airports are concentrated in northern Asia, with the exception of Bangkok and Singapore in Southeast Asia. For economy travel, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Taipei emerged as the top five hubs in Asia, with a majority of passengers originating from airports within the region.
“Booking your air tickets more than 30 days before departure will give you the best savings,” said James Marshall, vice-president for Asia-Pacific at Expedia’s Transport Partner Services. “Depending on whether you are travelling premium or economy class, on top of where you are travelling from, these factors will also play a part in determining when you can get the best air ticket prices.”