The recovery in passenger demand does not stop

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The recovery in passenger demand does not stop
Source: Twitter @IATA
January 26, 2022

According to the new IATA report, the total traffic for the month of December 2021 was 45.1% below the same month of 2019

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced full-year global passenger traffic results for 2021, showing that demand (revenue passenger-kilometre or RPK) fell by 58.4% compared to the full year of 2019. This represented an improvement compared to 2020, when full year RPKs were down 65.8% compared to 2019.

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are to the respective period in 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • International passenger demand in 2021 was 75.5% below 2019 levels. Capacity (measured in available seat kilometers, or ASKs) decreased 65.3% and load factor fell 24.0 percentage points up to 58.0%.
  • Domestic demand in 2021 decreased 28.2% compared to 2019. Capacity contracted 19.2% and load factor fell 9.3 percentage points to 74.3%.
  • Total traffic for the month of December 2021 was 45.1% below the same month in 2019, improving from a 47.0% contraction in November, as monthly demand continued to recover despite Omicron concerns . Capacity was down 37.6% and load factor fell 9.8 percentage points to 72.3%.
  • Ticket sales for future domestic and international travel have deteriorated since November. Tickets sold for travel anytime in the future were at 45% of 2019 levels in the first half of January, down from 50% in December and 56% in November. This suggests that the traditionally less busy January-February period will be weaker than in the absence of Omicron.

Impact of Omicron's measures: Omicron's travel restrictions delayed the recovery of international demand by about two weeks in December. International demand has been recovering at a rate of around four percentage points/month compared to 2019. Without Omicron, we would have expected international demand for the month of December to improve to around 56.5% below forecasts. 2019 levels. Instead, volumes increased marginally to 58.4% below 2019 from -60.5% in November.

“Overall travel demand strengthened in 2021. That trend continued into December despite travel restrictions in the face of Omicron. That says a lot about the strength of passengers' confidence and desire to travel. The challenge for 2022 is to bolster that trust by normalizing travel. While international travel is far from normal in many parts of the world, there is momentum in the right direction. Last week, France and Switzerland announced a major easing of measures. And yesterday, the UK removed all testing requirements for vaccinated travellers. We look forward to others following his important leadership, particularly in Asia, where several key markets remain virtually isolated,” said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.

Full-year international traffic for Asia-Pacific airlines plunged 93.2% in 2021 compared to 2019, which was the deepest drop of any region. It fell 87.5% in the month of December, slightly better than the 89.8% drop in November. Full-year capacity decreased 84.9% compared to 2019. Load factor fell 44.3 percentage points to 36.5%.

European carriers experienced a 67.6% traffic decline in 2021 compared to 2019. Capacity fell 57.4% and load factor decreased 20.6 percentage points to 65.0%. For the month of December, traffic fell 41.5% compared to December 2019, an improvement from the 43.5% year-over-year drop in November.

Middle East airlines' annual passenger volumes in 2021 were 71.6% lower than in 2019. Annual capacity fell 57.7% and load factor fell 25.1 percentage points to 51.1 %. December traffic was down 51.2% compared to December 2019, a solid rebound from a 54.3% drop in November.

Full-year traffic for North American airlines fell 65.6% compared to 2019. Capacity fell 52.0% and load factor sank 23.8 percentage points to 60.2%. December demand fell 41.7% compared to the same month a year earlier, a rebound from the 44.6% drop in November.

Latin American airlines had a 66.9% traffic decline for the full year compared to 2019. Capacity fell 62.2% and load factor fell 10.2 percentage points to 72.6%, the highest between the regions. Traffic fell 40.4% in the month of December compared to December 2019, significantly improving on the 47.3% drop in November.

International traffic for African airlines fell 65.2% last year compared to 2019, which was the best performance among the regions. Capacity fell 56.7% and load factor sank 14.1 percentage points to 57.3%. Demand for the month of December was 60.5% below the same period a year earlier, a deterioration from the 56.5% drop in November, due to the impact of government travel restrictions in response to Omicron .

China's domestic passenger traffic fell by 24.4% in 2021 compared to 2019. It decreased by 39.6% in the month of December compared to December 2019, which was an improvement compared to a decrease of 50%. .9% in November.

Russian domestic traffic increased 24.2% for the full year and 23.2% in the month of December, an acceleration from the 17.5% increase in November. Russia was the only market to see growth in RPKs in 2021 compared to 2019.

The Bottom Line
“As COVID-19 continues to evolve from pandemic to endemic stage, it is high time that governments evolve their responses away from travel restrictions that have repeatedly proven ineffective in preventing the spread of the disease. disease, but they deal enormous damage. on lives and economies. A New Year's resolution for governments should be to focus on building population immunity and stop putting travel barriers in the way of getting back to normal," Walsh said.


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