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Thursday,  July 25, 2024   3:23 PM
Domestic flights recovered, global traffic over 90% of pre-COVID levels: IATA
(Pax Global Media/file photo)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) saw continued strong passenger traffic demand in April, reporting that domestic traffic for that month rose 42.6% compared to the year-ago period and has now fully recovered.

Domestic flights for April saw a 2.9% increase over April’s 2019 results, IATA says.

Global traffic, meanwhile, is now at 90.5% of pre-COVID levels. At 81.3%, industry load factor was only 1.8 percentage points below pre-pandemic level, IATA says. 

International traffic climbed 48.0% versus April 2022 with all markets recording healthy growth, with carriers in the Asia-Pacific region continuing to lead the recovery. International RPKs reached 83.6% of April 2019 levels.

“April continued the strong traffic trend we saw in the 2023 first quarter. The easing of inflation and rising consumer confidence in most OECD countries combined with declining jet fuel prices, suggests sustained strong air travel demand and moderating cost pressures,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, in a statement.

North American carriers’ traffic, for one, climbed 34.8% in April 2023 versus the 2022 period.

Capacity increased 26.5%, and load factor rose 5.2 percentage points to 83.8%, which was the highest among the regions.

North American international traffic is now fully recovered, with RPKs 0.4% above April 2019 levels.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that aircraft and airports are full of people “eager to make use of their travel freedoms,” Walsh said.

“Airlines are working hard to accommodate them with a smooth travel experience despite continuing supply chain shortages and other operational challenges,” he said. “Sadly, some governments appear more keen on punitive regulation than on doing their part to enable hassle-free travel.”

He cited the Dutch Government’s “high-handed effort” to slash capacity at Schiphol airport as an example.

“And then we have a focus on EU-style passenger rights regulation that is spreading like a contagion,” Walsh said. “Proponents of this approach miss a key fact. EU 261 has not led to a reduction in delays. That’s because penalizing airlines raises airline costs but does not address delays caused by factors over which airlines have no control, such as inefficient air traffic management or staffing shortages at air navigation service providers. The single best thing that Europe could do to improve the travel experience is deliver the Single European Sky. As for other governments contemplating passenger rights regulations, avoiding a repeat of Europe’s mistake would be a helpful starting point.”

In a few days, leaders from the global aviation community will gather in Istanbul at the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit.

Regulation and other key issues, including the critical topic of sustainability, will be on the agenda, said Walsh.

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