Air travel still rebounding

New data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed that air travel continued its strong recovery trend in April, despite the war in Ukraine and travel restrictions in China.

Noting that the improvement was driven primarily by international demand, the airline industry’s latest air passenger market analysis said that “total demand for air travel in April 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was up 78.7 per cent compared to April 2021 and slightly ahead of March 2022’s 76 per cent year-over-year increase.

“April domestic air travel was down one per cent compared to the year-ago period, a reversal from the 10.6 per cent demand rise in March. This was driven entirely by continuing strict travel restrictions in China, where domestic traffic was down 80.8 per cent year-to-year. Overall, April domestic traffic was down 25.8 per cent versus April 2019,” IATA stated

“International RPKs rose 331.9 per cent versus April 2021, an acceleration over the 289.9 per cent rise in March 2022 compared to a year ago. April 2022 international RPKs were down 43.4 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.”

IATA Director General Willie Walsh said that “with the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities”.

He saw April’s data as “cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel”.

“The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognise this success soon and take its own steps towards normality,” he added.

In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, airlines “experienced a 263.2 per cent rise in April traffic, compared to the same month in 2021, exceeding the 241.2 per cent rise in March 2022 over March 2021”.

“April capacity rose 189.1 per cent and load factor increased 16.8 percentage points to 82.3 per cent, which easily was the highest load factor among the regions for the 19th consecutive month,” the report stated.

Walsh said that with the northern summer travel season “now upon us”, it was clear that two years of border restrictions did not weaken the desire for the freedom to travel.

“Where it is permitted, demand rapidly is returning to pre-COVID levels,” he said.

However, Walsh also claimed that “it is also evident that the failings in how governments managed the pandemic have continued into the recovery”.

“With governments making U-turns and policy changes there was uncertainty until the last minute, leaving little time to restart an industry that was largely dormant for two years. It is no wonder that we are seeing operational delays in some locations. In those few locations where these problems are recurring, solutions need to be found so passengers can travel with confidence,” he asserted. (SC)

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