The International Air Transport Association (IATA) today announced passenger data for May 2022 showing that the recovery in air travel accelerated heading into the busy Northern Hemisphere summer travel season.
African airlines had a 134.9% rise in May RPKs versus a year ago. May 2022 capacity was up 78.5% and load factor climbed 16.4 percentage points to 68.4%, the lowest among regions.
The industry has returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period, unless otherwise noted. Owing to the low traffic base in 2021, some markets will show very high year-on-year growth rates, even if the size of these markets is still significantly smaller than they were in 2019.
Total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 83.1% compared to May 2021, largely driven by the strong recovery in international traffic. Global traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-crisis levels.
Domestic traffic for May 2022 was up 0.2% compared to the year-ago period. Significant improvements in many markets were masked by a 73.2% year-on-year decline in the Chinese domestic market due to COVID-19-related restrictions. May 2022 domestic traffic was 76.7% of May 2019.
International traffic rose 325.8% versus May 2021. The easing of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia is accelerating the recovery of international travel. May 2022 international RPKs reached 64.1% of May 2019 levels.
“The travel recovery continues to gather momentum. People need to travel. And when governments remove COVID-19 restrictions, they do. Many major international route areas – including within Europe and the Middle East-North America routes – are already exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.
“Completely removing all COVID-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week. The major exception to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a dramatic 73.2% fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year. Its continuing zero-COVID policy is out-of-step with the rest of the world and it shows in the dramatically slower recovery of China-related travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.
Latin American airlines’ May traffic rose 180.5% compared to the same month in 2021. May capacity rose 135.3% and load factor increased 13.5 percentage points to 83.4%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 20th consecutive month. Some routes, including those from Central America to Europe and to North America, are outperforming 2019 levels.
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