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Monday,  March 4, 2024 10:07 PM 

IATA: Global air traffic 98.2% of 2019 levels; Walsh calls for SAF policies

  • Air
  •   12-05-2023  3:22 am
  •   Pax Global Media

IATA: Global air traffic 98.2% of 2019 levels; Walsh calls for SAF policies
Willie Walsh, director general, IATA. (IATA)
Pax Global Media

The aviation industry’s post-COVID recovery continued into October, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported Tuesday (Dec. 5).

Total traffic in October 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilonetres or RPKs) rose 31.2% compared to October 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 98.2% of pre-COVID levels, IATA says.

Domestic traffic for October rose 33.7% versus October 2022, driven by the triple-digit percentage growth recorded in China, and was 4.8% above the October 2019 results.

International traffic climbed 29.7% compared to the same month a year ago, IATA says.

All markets saw double-digit percentage gains year on year. International RPKs reached 94.4% of October 2019 levels.

“October’s strong result brings the industry ever closer to completing the post-pandemic traffic recovery. Domestic markets remain above pre-COVID levels. International demand is recovering, but more slowly. In particular, Asia Pacific carriers’ international demand is 19.5% behind 2019. This could reflect the late lifting of COVID restrictions in parts of the region as well as commercial developments and political tensions,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, in a statement.

North American carriers, for one, had a 17.5% traffic rise in October 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity also increased 17.5%, and load factor was stable at 83.9%, IATA says.

The bottom line

Walsh’s bottom line is that “people assign a high value to the freedom to travel.”

“The strong demand we’ve seen all year confirms that,” he said. “And aviation is committed to ensuring that people can continue to enjoy this freedom.”

To do that in the long-term, however, airlines and governments must commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, he said.

Last month, the Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels agreed a global framework to promote Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production with the aim that aviation fuel in 2030 is five per cent less carbon intensive than fossil fuel used today.

“Now, governments need to support that target by immediately putting in place policies to stimulate SAF production,” Walsh said. “It bears repeating – last year, every drop of SAF that was produced was purchased. The same thing will occur this year.”

“But, with a few notable exceptions, governments are not living up to their obligations to ensure SAF is plentiful and affordable to support the industry’s energy transition.”


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