The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced passenger data for March 2022 demonstrating that the recovery of air travel continues.
In a released issued in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, the report showed that African airlines had a 91.8 per cent rise in March passenger traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) versus a year ago.
According to IATA, the performance was an improvement compared to the 70.8 per cent year-over-year increase recorded in February 2022 compared to the same month in 2021.
It explained that air travel demand is challenged by low vaccination rates on the continent as well as impacts from rising inflation.
It also stated that March 2022 capacity was up 49.9 per cent and load factor climbed 14.1 percentage points to 64.5 per cent.
IATA also reported that European carriers continued to lead the recovery, with March traffic rising 425.4 per cent versus March 2021, improved over the 384.6 per cent increase in February 2022 compared to the same month in 2021.
“The impact of the war in Ukraine has been relatively limited outside of traffic to/from Russia and countries neighboring the conflict. Capacity rose 224.5 per cent, and load factor climbed 27.8 percentage points to 72.7 per cent,” it said.
Asia-Pacific airlines had a 197.1 per cent rise in March traffic compared to March 2021, up over the 146.5 per cent gain registered in February 2022 versus February 2021.
Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 245.8 per cent in March compared to March 2021, an improvement compared to the 218.2 per cent increase in February 2022, versus the same month in 2021.
March capacity rose 96.6 per cent versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 31.1 percentage points to 72.1 per cent.
North American carriers experienced a 227.8 per cent traffic rise in March versus the 2021 period, slightly down on the 237.3 per cent rise in February 2022 over February 2021.
For the Latin American airlines, March traffic rose 239.9 per cent compared to the same month in 2021, little changed from the 241.9 per cent increase in February 2022 compared to February 2021.
IATA said the region benefitted from the end of bankruptcy procedures for some of the main carriers based there.
March capacity rose 173.2 per cent and load factor increased 15.8 percentage points to 80.3 per cent, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 18th consecutive month.
On the whole, IATA noted that total traffic in March 2022 was up 76.0 per cent compared to March 2021.
Although that was lower than the 115.9 per cent rise in February year-over-year demand, the airlines’ association said volumes in March were the closest to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, at 41% below.
For the domestic carriers, the association said March 2022 traffic was up 11.7 per cent compared to the year-ago period, far below the 59.4 per cent year-over-year improvement recorded in February.
It explained that the development was largely a result of the Omicron-related lockdowns in China which saw the month’s domestic RPKs down 23.2 per cent versus March 2019.
International RPKs rose 285.3 per cent versus March 2021, exceeding the 259.2 per cent gain experienced in February versus the year-earlier period.
“With barriers to travel coming down in most places, we are seeing the long-expected surge in pent-up demand finally being realized. Unfortunately, we are also seeing long delays at many airports with insufficient resources to handle the growing numbers. This must be addressed urgently to avoid frustrating consumer enthusiasm for air travel,” IATA’s director general, Willie Walsh said.
IATA further said March’s strong growth in most markets compared to a year ago, is helping passenger demand catch-up to 2019 levels.
Total RPKs in March were down 41.3 per cent compared to March 2019, an improvement compared to the 45.5 per cent decline recorded in February versus the same month in 2019.
“The ongoing recovery in air travel is excellent news for the global economy, for friends and families whose forced separations are being ended, and for the millions of people who depend on air transport for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, some government actions are emerging as key impediments to recovery. This is demonstrated most dramatically in the Netherlands,” Walsh added.