The global representative body of the airline industry, the International Air Transport Association (Iata), has reported that air passenger traffic worldwide continued a strong recovery trend in April, driven mainly by international travel demand. This was despite the war in Ukraine and travel restrictions imposed in China (to counter Covid-19).
In year-on-year (y-o-y) terms, total air passenger demand in April was up 78.7%. (In March, the y-o-y increase had been 76%.) However, domestic air passenger demand in April (y-o-y) was down 1%, because of strict travel limitations imposed in China. Indeed, Chinese domestic air travel in April registered a y-o-y fall of 80.8%. Worldwide, domestic air travel this past April was still 25.8% down on the figure for April 2019.
International air travel traffic in April, in very sharp contrast, rocketed 331.9%, y-o-y. In March, the y-o-y increase had been 289.9%. Although, overall, international demand in April was still 43.4% below that in April 2019, on some routes (for example, Europe-Central America, Middle East-North America and North America-Central America) demand this past April was higher than it had been before the pandemic.
“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,” pointed out Iata director-general Willie Walsh. “April data is a 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.”
Chinese restrictions caused total air passenger demand in the Asia Pacific to fall in April by 25.4%, y-o-y, but the region’s international traffic shot up by 290.8%. Overall demand in North America rose 78.5% over the same period but international demand climbed 230.2%. Africa saw a total increase of 108.4% and an international increase of 116.2%. The improvement in Latin America was 139.2% in total demand and 263.2% in international demand. The Middle East recorded a jump in total demand of 238.1% and, in international demand, of 265%. Air passenger traffic in Europe rocketed in April, y-o-y, with total demand shooting up by 301.6% and international demand by 480%.
China was the only major domestic market to record a y-o-y fall in April. The increases, for the others monitored by Iata, were (from least to greatest) – Australia (47.5%), the US (48.2%), Japan (57%), India (78.6%) and Brazil (133.3%).