The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released passenger data for March 2022, which showed the continued recovery of air travel, as the impact of the war in Ukraine fell on demand levels, while the effects of the Omicron mutant were largely limited. in Asian domestic markets.
Total passenger traffic increased by 76.0% in March 2022 (measured in passenger revenue per kilometer) compared to the same period last year. Demand in March reached the nearest pre-crisis level in 2019 with 41%, but still less than the annual growth of 115.9% recorded in February.
Domestic travel in March 2022 recovered by 11.7% compared to the same period last year, much less than the 59.4% improvement recorded in February. This is mainly due to the blocking measures caused by the Omicron mutant in China. Revenues of domestic passengers per kilometer have decreased by 23.2% compared to March 2019.
International passenger revenue per kilometer improved by 285.3% compared to March 2021, surpassing the previous increase of 259.2% in February compared to the same period last year. Most regions recorded a performance improvement compared to last month, led by the performance of European airlines. International passenger revenue per kilometer decreased by 51.9% in March 2022, compared to the same month of 2019.
Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association, said: “Declining demand levels are proving a long-awaited recovery, with travel restrictions lifted in most regions, but there are many delays at many airports due to shortages. sufficient resources to keep pace with rising demand levels. This must be addressed quickly to meet the aspirations of enthusiastic air passengers. ”
European airlines continued to lead the recovery movement, as air traffic improved by 425.4% in March compared to the same period last year, surpassing the improvement recorded in February 2022 by 384.6% compared to the same period of last year. The impact of the war in Ukraine has been relatively limited outside air traffic to and from Russia and its neighbors. Capacity increased 224.5% and the load factor increased by 27.8 percentage points to 72.7%.
Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region recorded a 197.1% increase in passenger traffic during March compared to the same period a year earlier, which is an increase from the 146.5% increase recorded in February 2022 compared to the same months of 2021. China and Japan continue to close their borders to tourists, other countries are moving to ease travel restrictions, including South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand. Capacity also increased by 70.7% and the load factor by 24.1 percentage points to reach 56.6%, which is the lowest in all regions.
Airlines in the Middle East marked an increase of 245.8 percent in March compared to March 2021, which represents a significant increase compared to the increase recorded in February 2022, which reached 218.2 percent compared to the same period of the year. passed. Capacity in March increased by 96.6% compared to the same period a year earlier, and the load factor increased by 31.1 percentage points to 72.1%.
In March, North American airlines saw an improvement in passenger traffic by 227.8% compared to the same period of 2021, with a slight decline from the growth recorded in February 2022 by 237.3% compared to the same month of 2021. Capacity increased by 91.9%. and the factor increased the load by 31.2 percentage points to 75.4%.
Latin American airlines recorded an increase of 239.9% in March compared to March 2021, a slight change from the increase recorded in February 2022, which reached 241.9% compared to the same period last year . Some of the major airlines in the region are benefiting from the completion of bankruptcy proceedings. Capacity increased by 173.2% in March and the load factor increased by 15.8 percentage points to 80.3%, the highest among the regions for the 18th consecutive month.
African Airlines achieved a 91.8% increase in passenger revenue per kilometer in March compared to the same period last year, which is an improvement compared to the increase recorded in February 2022 by 70.8% year-on-year compared to the same month last year. Demand for air transport was negatively affected due to low vaccination rates and deteriorating inflation on the continent. In March 2022, capacity increased by 49.9% and the load factor increased by 14.1 percentage points to reach 64.5%.
Domestic travel traffic in China fell by 59.1% last March compared to March 2021, representing a significant decline from the annual growth of 32.8% recorded in February. This is attributed to the strict blocking measures and travel restrictions imposed due to the spread of the Omicron mutant in the country.
And mileage revenue for domestic flights to India improved in March by 32.3% year-on-year, compared with a 2.4% decline in February compared to February 2021. 2022 versus 2019
The strong growth rate recorded in most indicators during March 2022, compared to the same period last year, supports the demand for travel traffic to keep pace with the levels of 2019. Total passenger revenue per kilometer decreased in March past 41.3% compared to March 2019, which represents a good improvement from the 45.5% decline recorded in February compared to the same month of 2019. Local recovery levels continue to exceed their counterparts in global markets, despite returning to China.
Walsh explained: The ongoing recovery in air travel opens up great prospects for the global economy and for the millions of people whose businesses are affected by travel restrictions, as well as for family members and friends living in scattered countries. Measures taken by some governments are a major obstacle to recovery, and this is particularly evident in the Netherlands, where regulators at Schiphol Airport have allowed to offset losses caused by the Covid-19 crisis at the expense of airlines and customers by increasing the airport. tariffs by 37% over the next three years. The airport administration also asked airlines to cancel new bookings and sales for this week, which was a major concern for passengers, as it claimed there was a shortage of airport staff, including government-provided security seats. . The government also aims to increase passenger taxes by 400m euros a year to reduce travel demand.