Airline industry flew high in 2014
Some of the key factors driving this unprecedented air travel demand are an expanding U.S. economy, rising personal incomes and the highest consumer confidence level since before the recession.
In a recent poll, the travel website TripAdvisor surveyed 44,000 people around the world on a number of travel-related issues. Of the Americans who participated, 67% reported that they were planning an international trip for leisure, up from 50% last year.
TripAdvisor also wanted to find out where participants had been in the last 12 months, where they planned on going in the next 12 months and what their dream destination was. Although Australia topped the list of ideal vacation spots, followed closely by the U.S., less than 5% said they had actually made the trip down under.
On the other hand, about 20% of respondents, or close to 8,800 people, said they had visited the U.S. in the last year, while the same percentage of people said they would likely travel to the U.S. in the coming months.
Air travel between the U.S. and China is expected to increase now that multi-entry visas for citizens of both countries have been extended from one year to 10 years. International flights out of China have already been trending steadily upwards for years, a result of a growing middle class. The visa policy revision should help ramp up Chinese outbound air travel even more.
As I pointed out last month, Chinese travelers are the world’s highest spenders while on vacation. The average Chinese visitor spends between $6,000 and $7,200 per trip to the U.S. The visa revision is welcome news not only for airlines such as Air China, which we own in our China Region Fund (UXCOX), but also hotels, restaurants, car rental companies and others in the travel and leisure services industry.
It should also be a tailwind to luxury retailers that are increasingly setting up shop in international airports.