Worldwide, air passenger travel continues its strong recovery, reports IATA

Passengers disembark after an international flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi

Passengers disembark after an international flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi

Photo by Airlink

5th May 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Global air passenger traffic continued, in March, to recover strongly from the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported. Total air passenger traffic in that month jumped 52.4% in year-on-year (y-o-y) terms, and reached 88% of March 2019 (pre-Covid) levels. (IATA is the global representative body for the airline industry, with some 300 member airlines, collectively responsible for 83% of air traffic, worldwide.)

International air passenger traffic in March soared 68.9%, y-o-y, and reached 81.6% of March 2019 levels. Moreover, the international load factor in March of 81.3% actually exceeded the March 2019 load factor by 10.1 percentage points. This recovery was led by the Asia-Pacific region, but all markets reported good growth. Domestic air passenger traffic growth in March came off a higher base than international traffic, but was still substantial, at 34.1%, y-o-y. Domestic traffic reached 98.9% of March 2019’s numbers.

“The calendar year first quarter ended on a strong note for air travel demand,” highlighted IATA director-general Willie Walsh. “Domestic markets have been near their pre-pandemic levels for months. And for international travel two key waypoints were topped. First, demand increased by 3.5 percentage points compared to the previous month’s growth, to reach 81.6% of pre-Covid levels. This was led by a near-tripling of demand for Asia-Pacific carriers as China’s reopening took hold. And efficiency is improving as international load factors reached 81.3%. Even more importantly, ticket sales for both domestic and international travel give every indication that strong growth will continue into the peak northern hemisphere summer travel season.”

The Asia-Pacific region recorded a y-o-y jump in total air passenger demand of 158.9% in March. Africa recorded the next highest increase, of 66.1%, followed by the Middle East (40.4%), then Europe (37%), Latin America (19.9%) and North America (16.9%).

In terms of international air passenger traffic, the region which saw the greatest y-o-y increase in demand in March was again the Asia-Pacific, which rocketed 283.1%. Africa was again in second place, soaring 71.7%. But third place was taken by North America, with a jump of 51.6%, followed by the Middle East (43.1%), then Europe (38.5%) and Latin America (36.5%).

IATA tracked six particularly large domestic air travel markets – Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan and the US. China saw the biggest y-o-y growth amongst these, in March, at 195.2%. Next came Japan, at 61.1%, followed by Australia (44.7%), India (20.3%), Brazil (8%) and the US (4.4%). IATA highlighted that Brazilian domestic air traffic was now only slightly below pre-Covid levels, while Indian domestic air travel was now 10% above pre-pandemic levels.     

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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