Spooked Australian travellers are deserting Malaysia Airlines following the March 8 disappearance of MH370, but overall airfare spending is up.
New data drawn from the bank accounts of 20,000 Australians shows March spending on Malaysia Airlines tickets was down a third on the monthly average for the six months prior.
China Southern Airlines, its partner for the flight, experienced a 54 per cent reduction in Australian spending.
Other carriers with links to Malaysia and China also suffered, with spending on China Eastern and Malaysia’s Air Asia down 34 and 20 per cent, respectively.
MH370 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew when it disappeared from radar. Search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean have recovered no debris and all on board are presumed dead.
Malaysia Airlines chief Ahmad Jauhari Yahya has conceded the incident has hurt ticket sales, but has declined to provide specifics.
Despite the incident, overall Australian airfare spending grew seven per cent in March compared with February, as customers began planning mid-year trips.
Cathay Pacific got a 48 per cent boost, while Virgin (up 16 per cent) and Qantas (up 10 per cent) also grew.
The data comes from Australian budget-management app Pocketbook, which aggregates a user’s bank accounts, credit cards and loans, providing a single view of spending.
This gives it a unique insight into the spending habits of its roughly 50,000 Australian users.
AUSTRALIAN AIRLINE SPEND IN MARCH COMPARED TO SEPT-FEB AVERAGE:
* China Southern Airlines: down 54 per cent
* China Eastern Airlines: down 34 per cent
* Malaysia Airlines: down 31 per cent
* Air Asia: down 20 per cent
* Cathay Pacific: up 48 per cent
* Garuda Indonesia: up 23 per cent
* Virgin: up 16 per cent
* Qantas: up 10 per cent.
Source: Data from 20,000 Pocketbook users