IATA reports full recovery in domestic traffic

Global passenger traffic sees significant growth while international markets show signs of a promising rebound, according to new figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

IATA has reported robust passenger traffic demand in April, with a steady recovery in domestic travel.

According to the latest data, total global traffic in April 2023, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), increased by 45.8% compared to the same period last year.

Overall, the industry has reached 90.5% of pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating a remarkable rebound. The industry load factor stood at 81.3%, a marginal decrease of 1.8 percentage points from pre-Covid levels.

Domestic traffic experienced a significant surge, rising by 42.6% compared to the previous year and surpassing the April 2019 figures by 2.9%. The international sector also showed promising growth, with a 48% increase in traffic compared to April 2022. Carriers in the Asia-Pacific region led the recovery, and international RPKs reached 83.6% of April 2019 levels.

IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh expressed optimism about the current trends. “The strong traffic trend we saw in the first quarter of 2023 continues into April, supported by easing inflation, rising consumer confidence, and declining jet fuel prices,” he noted. “These factors indicate sustained demand for air travel and moderating cost pressures.”

Let’s take a closer look at the performance of international and domestic markets…

International Passenger Markets

  • Asia-Pacific: Traffic in April 2023 soared by 192.7% compared to April 2022. The region’s carriers saw a significant increase in capacity (145.3%) and achieved a commendable load factor of 81.6%
  • Europe: European carriers experienced a traffic rise of 22.6% compared to April 2022, with capacity increasing by 16.0%. The region’s load factor stood at an impressive 83.3%
  • Middle East: Traffic in the Middle East grew by 38.0% compared to April last year. The region’s carriers expanded capacity by 27.8%, resulting in a load factor of 76.2%
  • North America: Carriers in North America recorded a 34.8% increase in traffic compared to April 2022. With a capacity increase of 26.5%, the region achieved the highest load factor of 83.8%. While North American international traffic has fully recovered, surpassing April 2019 levels by 0.4% in RPKs, according to the IATA report
  • Latin America: Traffic in Latin America increased by 25.8% compared to April 2022, accompanied by a capacity growth of 26.4%. The region’s load factor slightly declined to 83.1%
  • Africa: African airlines witnessed a remarkable traffic rise of 53.5% in April 2023 compared to the previous year. Although the load factor remained relatively lower at 69.8%, this growth was the second highest among the regions

Domestic Passenger Markets

  • China: Domestic traffic in China skyrocketed by 536.2% in April compared to a year ago, exceeding the April 2019 levels by 6.0%
  • United States: Domestic demand in the US increased by 5.5% in April 2023, surpassing the April 2019 levels by 3.3%

As we head into the peak travel season in the Northern Hemisphere, airlines and airports are working diligently to accommodate the surge in passenger numbers. However, operational challenges and supply chain shortages persist. IATA’s Willie Walsh highlighted concerns regarding regulatory measures that hinder seamless travel experiences, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts and efficient air traffic management.

The 79th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit, scheduled to take place in Istanbul, will address critical topics such as sustainability and regulation within the aviation industry.

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