The air travel rebound was driven by the recovery in domestic markets
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced a moderate rebound in air travel in September compared to August’s performance.
Speaking about the findings, IATA director general Willie Walsh said: “September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid continuing border closures and quarantine mandates. The recent US policy change to reopen travel from 33 markets for fully vaccinated foreigners from 8 November is a welcome – if long overdue – development.”
Total demand for air travel in September 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.4% compared to September 2019. This marked an uptick from August, when demand was 56.0% below August 2019 levels.
Domestic markets were down 24.3% compared to September 2019, a significant improvement from August 2021, when traffic was down 32.6% versus two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, although the latter remained in solid growth territory compared to 2019.
International passenger demand in September was 69.2% below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7% decline recorded in August.
Middle Eastern airlines had a 67.1% demand drop in September compared to September 2019, slightly improved over the 68.9% decrease in August, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 52.6%, and load factor slipped 23.1 percentage points to 52.2%.
Walsh concluded: “The G20 declared a commitment to take action to support recovery with seamless travel, sustainability, and digitalization. Now governments must put actions behind these words to realize simple and effective measures. People, jobs, businesses and economies are counting on real progress.”
IATA’s vision for safely re-establishing global connectivity is based on five key principles:
- Vaccines should be available to all as quickly as possible
- Vaccinated travellers should not face any barriers to travel
- Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine
- Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes, and
- Governments should pay for testing, so it does not become an economic barrier to travel
For more information, see the September Air Passenger Market Analysis