Travel demand improves but still far below pre-pandemic levels, says Iata
International and domestic travel demand showed significant momentum in July 2021 compared to June, but demand remained far below pre-pandemic levels, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday.
The global aviation body said extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets.
Total demand for air travel in July 2021 – measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs – was down 53.1 per cent compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June this year, when demand was 60 per cent below June 2019 levels.
International passenger demand in July was 73.6 per cent below July 2019, bettering the 80.9 per cent decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago. All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international RPKs.
Domestic demand was down 15.6 per cent versus pre-crisis levels.
“July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Domestic traffic was back to 85 per cent of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes. The problem is border control measures,” said Willie Walsh, director-general of Iata.
“Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines. People travelled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets. A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travellers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors,” pointed out Walsh.
The Middle Eastern airlines posted a 74.5 per cent demand drop in July compared to July 2019, surpassing the 79.2 per cent decrease in June, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 59.5 per cent, and load factor deteriorated 30.1 percentage points to 51.3 per cent, Iata said.
On the other hand, demand for cargo continued its strong growth trend, Iata said.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, was up 8.6 per cent in July 2021compared to July 2019. Overall growth remained strong compared to the long-term average growth trend of around 4.7 per cent. The pace of growth slowed slightly compared to June which saw demand increase 9.2 per cent against pre-Covid-19 levels. While capacity continued to recover, it is still 10.3 per cent down compared to July 2019.
Middle Eastern carriers posted a 11.3 per cent rise in international cargo volumes in July 2021 compared to July 2019.
“July was another solid month for global air cargo demand. Economic conditions indicate that the strong growth trend will continue into the peak year-end demand period. The Delta variant of Covid-19 could bring some risks. If supply chains and production lines are disrupted, there is potential for a knock-on effect for air cargo shipments,” said Walsh.
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