Leading European flight search engine Skyscanner today announced a 54% year on year increase in site traffic for the first quarter of 2009. More than 50 million flight searches take place each month on the Skyscanner site, with 65% of these from outside the UK. “We’re very pleased with the overall growth for the quarter, but it is the continued acceleration in growth which is exceptionally positive,” said Gareth Williams, CEO of Skyscanner.
“At the beginning of 2009 we reported year on year growth of 32%. This has accelerated rapidly over the last three months, culminating last week in growth of 87% over the March 2008 figures.”
Context for these growth figures was provided by the announcement from online intelligence agency Hitwise at the start of 2009 which reported a 42% drop in internet searches for flights across the online travel sector.
Skyscanner’s continued push into overseas markets has contributed greatly to the company’s success. Growth has been particularly strong in the UK and Europe, but there has also been a huge jump in the US market, with end of quarter year on year figures at 160%. The end of quarter growth figure for the rest of the world (beyond US and Europe) is 163%.
“We are very focused on being a global leader,” said Gareth Williams. “No company in the travel sector can afford to think regionally. Around 65% of our traffic comes from countries outside the UK and is continuing to build with the addition of new top level domain names.”
One of the reasons for this success in the international market is Skyscanner’s increasingly extensive coverage of budget and scheduled flights around the world - over 600 airlines and around 600,000 routes are now available through Skyscanner, and the objective of covering every commercial flight in the world is expected to be achieved in the next quarter. The site is also available in 20 different languages.
“There was never any doubt that 2009 would be a tough year for the online travel industry, along with every other market sector,” said Gareth Williams. “However Skyscanner is continuing to grow strongly.
“Despite the recession, people are very reluctant to sacrifice their holidays, perhaps because they feel the need to escape the gloom, which is understandable. But value is more important than ever. They are determined to find the very best deals possible and they are less keen on sites that charge commission, or sites which expect them to trawl through different dates and destinations one by one to find the best offers - all of which is very good news for Skyscanner.”