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Recovery in international passenger travel continues to stall due to travel restrictions

Though month-on-month results improved, travel restrictions continue to hinder aviation’s recovery

According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA) domestic travel demand improved in April 2021 compared to March 2021 – however, it remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

Recovery in international travel continued to stall due to government-imposed travel restrictions. International passenger demand in April 2021 was 87% below April 2019, and little changed from the 88% decline recorded in March 2021 versus two years ago.

Total demand for air travel in April 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 65% compared to April 2019 – however, this was a slight improvement over the 67% decline recorded in March 2021 versus March 2019.

The improvement was driven by gains in most domestic markets. IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “The continuing strong recovery in domestic markets tells us that when people are given the freedom to fly, they take advantage of it. Unfortunately, that freedom still does not exist in most international markets. When it does, I’m confident we will see a similar resurgence in demand.”

Walsh added: “As we enter the peak summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere, we know that many people want to enjoy their freedom to travel. But for that to happen safely and efficiently amid the Covid-19 crisis, a more targeted approach is needed.

“Most government policies today default to the closing of borders. After a year-and-a-half of Covid-19 there is sufficient data for governments to manage the risks of Covid-19 without blanket travel bans.”

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