The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic, announced that air travel had a strong rebound in Feb-22 compared to Jan-22. This was a result of a reduction in the impact felt from Omicron, principally outside of Asia. The war in Ukraine, beginning on 24 February, did not significantly impact air traffic levels.
Month on Month Improvement to February 2022
Total traffic* in Feb-22 was up 115.9% compared to the same period last year. That is an improvement from the previous month: Jan-22 was up 83.1% versus Jan-21. However, in comparison to Feb-19, traffic was down 45.5%.
Feb-22 domestic traffic was up 60.7% versus the prior year. This is an improvement on Jan-22 where traffic was up 42.6% compared to Jan-21. There was wide variation in markets tracked by IATA. Domestic traffic in February was 21.8% versus volumes in Feb-19.
International RPKs increased 256.8% versus Feb-21, improving from a 165.5% year-over-year increase in Jan-22 versus the same period the previous year. All regions improved their performance compared to the prior month. Feb-22 international RPKs were 59.6% below the figures for the same month in 2019.
“The recovery in air travel is gathering steam as governments in many parts of the world lift travel restrictions. States that persist in attempting to lock-out the disease, rather than managing it, as we do with other diseases, risk missing out on the enormous economic and societal benefits that a restoration of international connectivity will bring,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
2022 vs 2019
The accelerated growth recorded in Feb-22 compared to last year, is helping passenger demand catch-up to 2019 levels. Total RPKs in February were down 45.5% compared to Feb-19, ahead of the 49.6% decline recorded in January versus the same month in 2019. The domestic recovery continues to outpace that of international markets.
“As the long-awaited recovery in air travel accelerates, it is important that our infrastructure providers are prepared for a huge increase in passenger numbers in the coming months. We are already seeing reports of unacceptably long lines at some airports owing to the growing number of travelers. And that is even before the surge of Easter holiday travel in many markets next week. The peak Northern summer travel season will be critical for jobs throughout the travel and tourism value chain. Now is the time to prepare. Governments can help by ensuring that border positions are staffed adequately and that background security checks for new staff are managed as efficiently as possible,” said Walsh.
*Traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs.
To read the IATA’s full report, see here.