UK summer flight bookings edging towards 2019 levels

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Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive from Paris at Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station, as Britain imposes a 14-day quarantine on arrival from France from Saturday, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London, Britain August 14, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

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LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Demand for flights in Britain is edging back towards pre-pandemic levels for the key summer holiday period, according to market data that suggests consumers are keen to get away despite the looming cost of living crunch.

Data from travel trends firm ForwardKeys said bookings for the summer were 16% behind comparable levels in January 2019, while demand was ahead of pre-pandemic levels for a four-day public holiday in June.

Many consumers are still booking flights at the last minute, benefiting from cheaper offers and allowing them to check whether COVID restrictions have changed.

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A spokesman for ForwardKeys said the summer demand was encouraging, with January a key booking month for the industry.

Airlines, hotels and beach resorts have been through a tumultuous two years, slashing costs, cutting staff numbers and scrapping routes, all while taking on huge amounts of debt.

In Britain and elsewhere, they now face one of the bleakest economic outlooks in decades as consumers contend with soaring energy costs, general inflation and higher taxes that come into force in April.

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Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Nick Macfie

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