How has the referendum affected UK flight searches

The day we heard the results of the referendum, flight searches soared. Not, as most people expected, just out of the UK, but also into the country. The question is, of course, why? We looked at the data and have found some fascinating results. So, let’s see how the referendum seems to be affecting our travel choices so far, as well as the UK as a holiday destination.

A surprising increase in flight searches from EU countries to the UK

It seems that a lot of European Union citizens are suddenly very interested in visiting the UK, as we begin to bow out of the EU. With travel restrictions slowly starting to come into play over the next few years the theory is that now is the time to stop putting off that trip to Big Ben, Stonehenge or Edinburgh Castle while travelling to the UK is still relatively straight forward. On June 24th, the day on which the results were announced, there was a massive surge in flight searches from EU countries to the UK – an overall increase of 42% (keep that number in mind) when compared with any other Friday in June. The French were the most eager to visit our fair shores with a whopping increase of 61%.

Even before the results were announced, searches from the EU for flights to the UK had already begun to increase. On the 23rd there was a significant increase in flight searches from  EU countries to the UK. The Czech Republic lead the way with 117% more searches than the previous Friday, followed by Belgium with 92%. The only country that showed any drop in interest in the UK was Italy – with a drop of 6%.

Interestingly enough, just a week before the referendum took place, a few of our neighbours showed a noticeable decline in flight searches to the UK. Greece (23%), Romania (27%) and Sweden (27%) were the most reluctant to pay us a visit while most other EU countries stayed active for the most part, with a slight increase in searches versus any other Friday of the month.
Growth in flight searches from the UK to the EU countries

Are a lot of us eager to leave the UK for good or do we just want to visit other countries in Europe before restrictions kick in? A question we may not have an answer for several years but one that is going to continue to be an area of great interest.

On June 24th there was also a massive surge in searches for flights going the other way; an increase of 42% (there’s that number again) when compared to any other Friday in June. The countries we focused on the most were the Netherlands, where our flight searches went up by 69%, followed by searches to Poland and Finland.

With uncertainty in the air the day before the referendum there was also a significant increase in flight searches from the UK to EU countries. This time, Sweden had the highest increase of flight searches at 77%, followed by Portugal with 66%, and the Netherlands, staying in the top 3 destinations with 57%. Only Hungary saw a drop with a 25% decrease.

The USA: heading across the pond for an attractive price

Chances are that the reason searches from the US to the UK went up by 54% is because the value of the Pound dropped so dramatically. This didn’t deter people searching for flights in the other direction, however, as searches from the UK to the US increased by 42% (that’s just uncanny). Airlines seemed like they were looking to make the best of the situation as we noticed a 31% price increase in fares from the UK to the US compared to the previous Friday.

Annie Wilson, travel expert at KAYAK comments. “Here at KAYAK we wanted to investigate the initial impact the results of the EU referendum had on searches to and from the UK to EU countries – and also to investigate any significant differences in prices before and after the vote. The results seem to show a substantial increase in interest for flights both to and from the UK. The global impact is also seen by a sharp increase in searches to the UK from the US – perhaps as a response to the pound falling against the dollar, and Americans wanting to see if a holiday to the UK would represent better value for money.”

Note to editors: Data is based on flight searches made on KAYAK between 1 May and 25 June 2016 for travelling dates from 1 June till 25 June 2016.

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