Analysis shows big decline in fare searches after Trump-ordered travel ban


The number of flight searches for travel from international points of origin to the U.S. was down 17% in the week that included President Trump's signing of a controversial 90-day travel ban on nationals of seven Muslim-majority Muslim countries compared with the last three weeks of the Obama administration, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Hopper.

Hopper tracks GDS searches in order to analyze fare prices and demand. 

The decline doesn't appear to be seasonal, Hopper chief data analyst Patrick Surry said, as last year there was only a 1.8% decline in the same time period.  So far, the drop in demand has had little impact on prices, he added, but the airfare market typically takes weeks to react.

In conducting the analysis, Hopper looked at flight search queries to the U.S. from 122 countries in which it says it has significant data coverage. The analysis began with searches on Dec. 29 and went through Feb. 1. Out of those 122 countries, searches for flights to the U.S. were down in 94 of them during the week of the Jan. 27 travel ban compared with the last three weeks of the Obama presidency.

Notably, searches for U.S. flights dropped an average of 33% from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Somalia, which are six of the seven countries targeted in the travel ban. Hopper doesn't have data on searches conducted for travel from Yemen.

Among the 11 countries for which there had been an average of least 1 million weekly searches for U.S. flights from Dec. 29 to Jan. 18, there was a lower number for 10 of those countries during the week of Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.

For example, searches for China-U.S. flights dropped 33%, Australia searches dropped 25%, Mexico searches were down 21%, Venezuela searches were down 20%, Brazil searches dropped 16% and the number of searches for UK-U.S. flights was off 9%.

Among the countries in which more than 1 million weekly searches were conducted during the weeks leading up to inauguration, only India had more searches for U.S. flights during the last week of January. The increase, however, was just 1%.

Notably, Russia bucked the overall trend of declining searches for flights to the U.S. Instead, searches from Russia jumped 88%, or nearly twice as much as any other country. Trump has signaled a desire to reshape U.S.-Russia relations and has often sided with Russia over U.S. intelligence agencies, which accuse the country of hacking Democratic National Committee emails in an effort to influence the presidential election.   

Hopper found that searches for inbound U.S. flights bottomed on Jan. 28, the day after Trump signed the travel ban order, but have risen closer to pre-inauguration levels since. The ban was suspended on Feb. 4.


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