Small increase in June air travel, long way to recovery due to international restrictions: IATA

Small increase in June air travel, long way to recovery due to international restrictions: IATA
by WiT,
in News,

THE month of June saw a very slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets, but passenger demand still remains way below pre-Covid-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions.

Elaborating, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 60.1{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} compared to June 2019 – a small improvement over the 62.9{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline recorded in May 2021.

International passenger demand in June was 80.9{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} below the same month in 2019, an improvement from the 85.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago. All regions, with the exception of Asia Pacific, contributed to the slightly higher demand.

Total domestic demand was down 22.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} versus pre-crisis levels (June 2019), a slight gain over the 23.7{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline recorded in May 2021 versus the 2019 period. The performance across key domestic markets was mixed with Russia reporting robust expansion while China returned to negative territory.

“We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets. But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need to be. June should be the start of peak season, but airlines were carrying just 20{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} of 2019 levels. That’s not a recovery, it’s a continuing crisis caused by government inaction,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general.

Asia Pacific airlines: International traffic in June fell 94.6{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} compared to June 2019, unchanged from the 94.5{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in May 2021 versus May 2019. The region had the steepest traffic declines for an 11th consecutive month. Capacity dropped 86.7{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} and the load factor was down 48.3 percentage points to 33.1{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}, the lowest among regions.

European carriers: Their June international traffic declined 77.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} versus June 2019, a gain from the 85.5{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decrease in May compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 67.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} and load factor fell 27.1 percentage points to 60.7{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}.

Middle Eastern airlines: Posted a 79.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} demand drop in June compared to June 2019, improving from the 81.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decrease in May versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 65.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} and load factor deteriorated 31.1 percentage points to 45.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}.

North American carriers: Demand in June fell 69.6{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} compared to the 2019 period, improving from the 74.2{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in May versus two years ago. Capacity sank 57.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}, and load factor dipped 25.3 percentage points to 62.6{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}.

Latin American airlines: They saw a 69.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} drop in June traffic compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 75.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity fell 64.6{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} and load factor dropped 11.3 percentage points to 72.7{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month.

African airlines: Traffic for these carriers fell 68.2{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} in June versus the same month two years ago, an improvement from the 71.5{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity contracted 60.0{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} versus June 2019, and load factor declined 14.5 percentage points to 56.5{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}.

China: Domestic traffic returned to negative territory in June, declining 10.8{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} compared to June 2019, following a 6.3{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} growth in May versus the same period in 2019. New restrictions had been introduced following a Covid-19 outbreak in several Chinese cities.

US: Domestic traffic improved from a 25.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in May versus the same month in 2019, to a 14.9{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} decline in June. Life in the US was starting to see some normalcy following the easing of measures and the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Commenting on the results Walsh said: “With
each passing day the hope of seeing a significant revival in international
traffic during the Northern Hemisphere summer grows fainter. Many governments
are not following the data or the science to restore the basic freedom of

“Despite growing numbers of vaccinated
people and improved testing capacity we are very close to losing another peak
summer season on the important trans-Atlantic market. And the UK’s flip-flop to
reinstate quarantine for vaccinated arrivals from France is the kind of policy
development that destroys consumer confidence when it is most needed.”

Walsh suggested what is needed now is a risk-managed re-connecting of the world, with freedom of movement returned to vaccinated travellers should have their freedom of movement returned. Additionally, as underlined in the latest WHO travel guidance an efficient testing regime can sufficiently manage risks for those unable to be vaccinated.

“The UK, Singapore and Canada have indicated timelines to open their borders without quarantine for vaccinated travellers. The European Commission has recommended that its member states adopt travel protocols that are closely aligned with WHO – including testing for unvaccinated travellers. Similar moves to re-open borders in line with the WHO guidance by US – leaders in vaccinating their populations – would give critical impetus to demonstrating that we can live and travel while managing the risks of Covid-19,” he added.

Featured image credit: Kiwis/Getty Images

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