International air travel is continuing to recover, with passenger demand growing in most regions – particularly across Europe – latest figures show.
Updated data from airline industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show significant year-on-year passenger volume growth for April, the latest month for which information is available, despite tensions emanating from the war in Ukraine.
The figures also suggest that some route regions are beginning to see a return to pre-Covid demand levels, including Europe-Central America and Europe-Middle East.
Total demand for air travel in April shot up by close to 80%, IATA said, albeit with the caveat that the figures are set against very weak demand comparisons for the early part of last year.
“With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh.
“April data is cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel. The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognise this success soon and take its own steps towards normality,” he said.
Overall passenger demand for international air travel still remains below pre-pandemic levels, but the gap is continuing to narrow. Total demand, in April of this year, was just over 37% down on the same month in 2019. That showed an improvement from March, when demand was more than 41% down on 2019.
“With the northern summer travel season now upon us, two things are clear: two-years of border restrictions have not weakened the desire for the freedom to travel. Where it is permitted, demand rapidly is returning to pre-Covid levels,” Mr Walsh said.
“However, it is also evident that the failings in how governments managed the pandemic have continued into the recovery. With governments making U-turns and policy changes there was uncertainty until the last minute, leaving little time to restart an industry that was largely dormant for two years. It is no wonder that we are seeing operational delays in some locations. In those few locations where these problems are recurring, solutions need to be found so passengers can travel with confidence,” he said.