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Four trends for marine travel in 2024

Marine travel is a dynamic sector committed to facilitating millions of seafarers in reaching their workplaces and returning home safely, promptly, and in a cost-effective manner.
marine travel trends

Client needs continually evolve in response to economic, environmental, and operational challenges, aligning with the dynamics of global maritime trade. In this segment, we explore some of these marine travel trends, challenges and their anticipated evolution over the next 12 months and beyond…

1. Flight pricing

According to ATPI’s research, the air travel industry is expected to rebound to pre-pandemic capacity levels by the end of 2024, although the recovery is uneven across regions. Specifically, South-East Asia and Eastern Europe are lagging, experiencing capacity declines of 19% and 15.5% respectively from 2019.

The mismatch between seat capacity and demand, which has already returned to pre-pandemic levels, particularly in regions crucial for marine crew changes, could continue to significantly impact the marine sector. Inflationary ticket price increases and limited seat availability in crew change routings may complicate crew rotations and logistics. However, on a global scale, all indicators suggest that, at least for Q1 2024, average marine airfare prices will remain at H2 2023 levels.

2. Increasing sustainability

While jet fuel prices and seat capacity continue to hold for a stable outlook in the short term, the airlines’ cost of mitigating carbon emissions is expected to cause material increases in ticket prices starting in 2026. Crew travel is part of a shipping company’s scope 3 carbon emissions and it’s likely that there will be a tangible increase in focus on greener solutions in 2024.

With the growing emphasis on sustainable crew travel, companies will be required to report more information to relevant authorities. Upcoming regulations like the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will demand more data transparency and scrutiny over environmental claims in travel too – it will no longer be acceptable to talk about carbon neutrality or your sustainability journey. Companies will have to prove their environmental credentials. Additionally, mitigating the environmental impact of non-avoidable air travel by assessing the carbon cost of individual crew trips and offsetting them using certified carbon credit projects will also become important.

Partnering with an environment-focused intermediary such as ATPI Halo, a CO2 measurement, reduction and offset service designed by travel management experts, can be a perfect fit.

3. Value adds

It’s likely that some airlines’ push towards New Distribution Capability (NDC) will continue in 2024. Despite the looming cost reduction programs in many shipping companies, the initial enthusiasm for NDC may be high. However, the additional time and complexity involved in managing crew travel bookings and addressing arising issues can swiftly erode any initial cost savings. Furthermore, airlines often lack the structure to provide comprehensive on-trip support, potentially leaving seafarers vulnerable to unforeseen issues and incurring additional costs.

These issues reflect the fundamental added value in the travel industry’s Global Distribution System (GDS), such as the ability of travel management companies to provide new and innovative solutions and workflows. For example, in 2024 ATPI Marine Travel will introduce new holistic booking and operations services that provide an invaluable support system for pre-, on- and post-trip efficiencies, taking its role as an intermediary much further into operational partner territory.

With numerous factors effecting the predictability of crew changes, Travel Management Companies (TMCs) are well positioned to provide enhanced resilience and traveler support during disruptions. This reinforces that the established GDS model is the most effective for crew managers looking to optimise operations and ensure their crew members arrive safe and on time.

4. Crew well-being

Extending well-being and duty of care initiatives to crew travel is crucial for supporting the mental health of seafarers. However, achieving this goal requires a comprehensive crew travel strategy that considers the traveler’s total experience. This includes providing crew managers with access to a broader range of flight options, enabling them to better align itineraries with crew members’ needs and promoting well-being during transit. Additionally, offering access to airport lounges ensures that seafarers enjoy a more comfortable and less stressful travel experience. Facilitating easy contact with expert support and ensuring fast issue resolution in case of deviations from the plan are also essential components of promoting crew well-being during travels to and from work.

While it can be challenging to organize and sustain all this internally, partnering with a specialist TMC can give crew managers solutions to ensure they deliver on their duty of care from door to deck. This kind of support is harder to obtain when just using a TMC for booking, or working direct with the airlines. Ultimately, working with ATPI Marine Travel can ensure that the individual seafarer’s state-of-mind and ability to work is considered in a holistic service that also emphasises all financial and operational workflows of crew change logistics.

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