Middle East airline passenger traffic surges 149% in September

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said passenger data for September showing that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong as International traffic climbed 122.2 per cent compared to the same month last year



Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general, said strong demand is helping the industry cope with sky-high fuel prices.
Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general, said strong demand is helping the industry cope with sky-high fuel prices.
by

Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Mon 7 Nov 2022, 7:15 PM

Airlines in the Middle East have continued to record strong demand for travel despite challenging economic conditions across the globe and geopolitical uncertainties as passenger traffic more than doubling in September compared to a year earlier, latest data shows.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said passenger data for September showing that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong as International traffic climbed 122.2 per cent compared to the same month last year.

“Regional demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), rose by 149.7 per cent in September compared to the same period in 2021. Capacity for the month also increased 63.5 per cent year-on-year basis while load factor rose 27.6 percentage points to 80 per cent,” according to the aviation body.

Overall, markets around the world saw international traffic climbing by 122.2 per cent, while domestic traffic inched up by 6.9 per cent, it added.

Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general, said strong demand is helping the industry cope with sky-high fuel prices.

“Even with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, the demand for air transport continues to recover ground,” he said.

Across Europe, airlines saw traffic climb by 78.3 per cent, while North American and Latin American carriers posted growth of 128.9 per cent and 99.4 per cent, respectively.

“African airlines saw a 90.5 per cent increase in passenger traffic. African airlines capacity rose 47.2 per cent in September and load factor climbed 16.7 percentage points to 73.6 per cent, the lowest among regions,” according to Iata.

Walsh said the “outlier is still China with its pursuit of a zero Covid strategy” keeping borders largely closed and creating a demand roller coaster ride for its domestic market, with September being down 46.4 per cent on the previous year.

“That is in sharp contrast to the rest of Asia-Pacific, which, despite China’s dismal performance, posted a 464.8 per cent increase for international traffic compared to the year-ago period,” Walsh said.

“To support that demand in the long-term, we need to pay attention to what travellers are telling us. After nearly three years of pandemic travel complexity, Iata’s 2022 Global Passenger Survey shows that travellers want simplification and convenience. That’s an important message for airlines but also for airports and governments,” he said.

According to the GPS, a majority of passengers want to use biometric data rather than passports for border processes. “And 93 per cent of passengers are interested in trusted traveler programs to expedite security screening. Modernising the facilitation experience will not only help alleviate the choke points, it will create a better experience for all,” said Walsh.

Cargo demand softened

Latest Iata data indicates that global air cargo markets showing that air cargo demand softened in September as it fell 10.6 per cent but continued to track at near pre-pandemic levels.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.8 per cent year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in September 2022. This was the worst performance of all regions and a significant decline compared to the previous month (-11.3 per cent) while capacity was down 2.8 per cent compared to September 2021, according to the Iata statement.

“While air cargo’s activity continues to track near to 2019 levels, volumes remain below 2021’s exceptional performance as the industry faces some headwinds. At the consumer level, with travel restrictions lifting post-pandemic, people are likely to spend more on vacation travel and less on e-commerce,” Walsh said.

“And at the macro-level, increasing recession warnings are likely to have a negative impact on the global flows of goods and services, balanced slightly by a stabilisation of oil prices. Against this backdrop, air cargo is bearing up well,” he said.

“And a strategic slow-down in capacity growth from 6.3 per cent in August to 2.4 per cent in September demonstrates the flexibility the industry has in adjusting to economic developments,” Walsh concluded.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com


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