Tourism in the face of uneven recovery due to restrictions
A report presented by ICAO reveals that Latin America and the Caribbean are unable to improve their levels due to the restrictions still in force in many markets
The restrictions imposed by the pandemic are beginning to widen a gap between countries and regions that are recovering at different rates. According to the ICAO Air Transport Monitor, Latin America and the Caribbean still suffers from the effects of not having a health passport or measures that allow its levels to be increased, as has been happening in key emitting markets such as North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle. East.
The situation is worrying because the air transport industry is not only a vital engine of global socio-economic growth, it is also vitally important as a catalyst for development. The sector creates direct and indirect employment and supports tourism and local businesses, but also stimulates foreign investment and international trade.
According to the ICAO report, world passenger traffic fell by -65.4% in April 2021 (compared to 2019), +1.8 percentage points more than the decrease of the previous month. The recovery in air travel continued alongside the decline in new COVID-19 cases globally. However, there are large disparities between regions as a result of the changing situation of the pandemic and travel restrictions, particularly the emergence of new variants in certain parts of the world. Domestic travel continued to be the driving force behind the recovery, with both domestic traffic from China and the Russian Federation exceeding 2019 levels.
The number of international passengers fell by -86.8% in April 2021 (compared to 2019), +0.3 percentage points more than the decrease of the previous month. International travel was unchanged with strict border restrictions due to concerns about the emergence of new variants. Asia / Pacific and Europe were the slowest recovery regions. International tourist arrivals also remained stagnant and followed a trend similar to that of international passenger traffic.
Worldwide capacity fell -54.5% in April 2021 (compared to 2019), +2.3 percentage points more than the previous month's drop (-56.8%). With ongoing improvements, capacity is expected to increase in May 2021 to -52.1% below the 2019 level.
The Passenger Occupancy Factor reached 63.3% in April 2021, +1.0 percentage point more than the previous month. The domestic load factor rebounded notably and stood at over 70%. As demand for air travel fell faster than capacity, the April LF was -19.5 percentage points lower than the rate in the same period in 2019.
In terms of RPKs, the top 15 airline groups accounted for 60.9% of the world's total RPKs in April 2021 and decreased by 54.9% compared to 2019. This decrease was 10.5 percentage points less than the drop in the world average RPK. While global passenger traffic improved, the pace of recovery remained uneven across regions. Airlines in countries with large domestic markets continued to lead the growth chart.
All Chinese airlines posted a faster recovery compared to other airlines in the Top 15. China Southern held the top position with RPK at -17.7% below 2019 levels. Air China overtook China Eastern in third place and Hainan Airlines maintained the same position. Spring Airlines remained the only airline to post positive growth, expanding strongly to + 11.3%.
US airlines showed strong improvements. American and Southwest showed a relatively quicker recovery than other US airlines in the Top 15. American ranked second and recovered to more than half of the 2019 RPK levels. Delta, United and Southwest remained in the same positions. than in March.
The recovery of airlines in Europe has been weak. Lufthansa and KLM continued to post the second and third largest contractions since 2019 levels. Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines performed slightly better at -48.7% and -60.5%, respectively.
Middle Eastern airlines also saw a slow recovery, with Emirates registering the largest contraction from 2019 levels, at -84.9%.
Global capacity contracted by -54.5% in April 2021, compared to 2019. All regions experienced slight improvements in capacity compared to the previous month, except for Africa and Latin America / the Caribbean, which experienced larger drops. Capacity offered in North America and Asia / Pacific showed the smallest decline from 2019 levels, while Europe continued to post the slowest capacity recovery.