Aviation recovers but the Omicron effect may complicate the next few months
IATA presented the traffic report for November 2021. It highlights a slight recovery but warns that the restrictions could affect the coming period
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel continued in November 2021, before the emergence of Omicron. International demand maintained its steady upward trend as more markets reopened. However, domestic traffic weakened, largely due to the tightening of travel restrictions in China.
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are skewed by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are to November 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
- Total demand for air travel in November 2021 (measured in revenue passenger-kilometers or RPK) decreased by 47.0% compared to November 2019. This marked a rebound compared to the 48.9% contraction in October of 2019.
- Domestic air travel deteriorated slightly in November after two consecutive monthly improvements. National RPKs fell 24.9% from 2019 compared to a decrease of 21.3% in October. Mainly, this was driven by China, where traffic fell 50.9% compared to 2019, after several cities introduced stricter travel restrictions to contain COVID outbreaks (pre-Omicron).
- International passenger demand in November was 60.5% below November 2019, exceeding the 64.8% drop recorded in October.
“The recovery in air traffic continued in November. Unfortunately, governments overreacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of the month, resorting to the tried and failed methods of border closure, excessive traveler testing and quarantine to slow the spread. Not surprisingly, international ticket sales made in December and early January fell dramatically compared to 2019, suggesting a tougher than expected first quarter. If the experience of the last 22 months has shown anything, it is that there is little or no correlation between the introduction of travel restrictions and the prevention of transmission of the virus across borders. And these measures place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.
International traffic from European operators in November decreased by 43.7% compared to November 2019, a big improvement compared to the 49.4% decrease in October compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity fell 36.3% and the load factor fell 9.7 percentage points to 74.3%.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their November international traffic drop 89.5% compared to November 2019, a slight improvement from the 92.0% drop in October 2021 compared to October 2019. Capacity fell 80.0% and the load factor fell 37.8 percentage points to 42.2%, the lowest among the regions.
Middle Eastern airlines saw a 54.4% drop in demand in November compared to November 2019, well above the 60.9% decrease in October compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity it decreased 45.5% and load factor fell 11.9 percentage points to 61.3%.
North American carriers experienced a 44.8% drop in traffic in November compared to the 2019 period, a significant improvement from the 56.7% decrease in October compared to October 2019. Capacity fell by 35 , 6% and the load factor fell 11.6 percentage points to 69.6%.
Latin American airlines saw a 47.2% drop in November traffic compared to the same month in 2019, a marked rebound over the 54.6% drop in October compared to October 2019. November capacity it fell 46.6% and load factor fell 0.9 percentage points to 81.3%. , which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 14th consecutive month.
African airline traffic fell 56.8% in November compared to two years ago, improved from the 59.8% drop in October compared to October 2019. November capacity decreased 49.6 % and the load factor decreased 10.1 percentage points to 60.3%.
Australia remained at the bottom of the national RPK chart for the fifth consecutive month with RPK 71.6% below 2019, although this improved from a 78.5% decrease in October, due to the reopening of some internal borders.
US domestic traffic was down just 6.0% compared to November 2019, improving from an 11.1% drop in October, thanks in part to strong Thanksgiving holiday traffic.