The latest airfare data from ForwardKeys paints a rosy picture for the UK outbound travel market for the autumn period. Year-to-date tickets issued for international short-term travel from the UK are currently just 6% behind the 2019 comparative period and 37% ahead of last year.

Among the most sought-after destinations is Portugal, with a growth of 41% compared to 2022, behind Spain (+43%) and Greece (+62%), but ahead of Italy (+15%).

Long-haul travel from the UK is 46% ahead of last year and just 16% behind 2019. Destinations such as the US are 27% behind 2019 levels and 14% in the UAE. India gained market share compared to 2019 to become the second largest long-haul destination, with growth of 20% compared to 2019.

“In the first quarter, tickets for travel next fall were 11% behind the same period in 2019, while in the second quarter, tickets were just 4% behind, highlighting an acceleration in recovery as we get closer to travel dates,” says Luis Millan, head of Research at ForwardKeys and reported by Publituris.

“That said, we are still ahead of the crucial booking period, with a substantial portion of bookings expected to take place in these weeks, as seen in both 2019 and 2022,” adds Millan.

When analysing historical departure times year-to-date, the data shows that British tourists are booking more in advance this year, compared to 2019 and 2022 – 31% of departures, year-to-date, had a booking window of more than 90 days, compared to just 24% in 2019 and 28% in 2022.

The 30 to 89 day window remains crucial, with a 37% share in 2023, compared to a 38% share in 2019 and 2022. However, almost a third of all bookings tend to materialize in the last 30 days before the vacation period.