Recovery in air passenger demand remains weak, reports Iata

29th July 2021 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Air passenger demand remains well below the levels experienced before the Covid-19 pandemic, although there has been a minor improvement in both international and domestic air travel numbers, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) reported on Wednesday. Iata is the representative body of the global air transport industry.

Iata expressed disappointment at the latest data. The low demand levels were, it noted, owing to continuing restrictions on international travel, imposed to try and contain the pandemic.

Total air passenger demand last month was 60.1% lower than in June 2019. (Comparison with June 2020 would be meaningless because of the huge market distortions imposed by national lockdowns and border closures, intended to counter Covid-19.) This amounted to only a slight improvement over the fall of 62.9% in May, compared to May 2019.

Regarding international air travel, in June this was 80.9% down on the figure for June 2019 (the May drop was 85.4% compared to the same month in 2019). For domestic air travel, last month’s decline, relative to June 2019, was 22.4% (while for May the fall was 23.7% compared with May 2019).

“We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets,” said Iata director-general Willie Walsh. “But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need it to be. June should be the start of peak season, but airlines were carrying just 20% of 2019 levels. That’s not a recovery, it’s a continuing crisis caused by government inaction.”

The regional market which reported the lowest decline in demand last month, compared to June 2019, was North America, which recorded a fall of 36.2%. Next came Latin America with a decline of 50.2%, followed by the Asia-Pacific with a drop of 65.6%. Africa was next, down 66.6%, then Europe, with a decline of 69.2% and finally, the Middle East, with a drop of 77.7%.