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Air Passenger Recovery Continues as Total Traffic Climbs 41% in Q4 2022

Willie Walsh

There are great improvements in the passenger recovery trend in the global aviation industry as total traffic in November 2022 rose 41.3% compared to November 2021.

Total traffic is measured in revenue passenger kilometers or (RPKs) as announced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which confirmed recently that air travel recovery continued through November 2022.

According to IATA, which represents some 300 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic, globally, traffic is now at 75.3% of November 2019 levels while international traffic rose 85.2% versus November 2021.

The International aviation body further pointed out that the Asia-Pacific continued to report the strongest year-over-year results with all regions showing improvement compared to the prior year.

Explaining further, IATA stated that November 2022 international RPKs reached 73.7% of November 2019 levels, just as domestic traffic for November 2022 was up 3.4% compared to November 2021 with travel restrictions in China continuing to dampen the global result.

Also total November 2022 domestic traffic was at 77.7% of the November 2019 level.

Commenting, Director General of IATA, Willie Walsh said “Traffic results in November reinforce that consumers are thoroughly enjoying the freedom to travel. Unfortunately, the reactions to China’s reopening of international travel in January reminds us that many governments are still playing science politics when it comes to COVID-19 and travel”.

“Epidemiologists, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and others have said that the reintroduction of testing for travelers from China can do little to contain a virus that is already present around the world. And China’s objections to these policy measures are compromised by their own pre-departure testing requirements for people traveling to China.

“Governments should focus on using available tools to manage COVID-19 effectively—including improved therapeutics and vaccinations—rather than repeating policies that have failed time and again over the last three years”, Walsh added.

At the international passenger market, Asia-Pacific airlines had a 373.9% rise in November traffic compared to November 2021, which was the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions.

African airlines however, had an 83.5% rise in November RPKs versus a year ago. November 2022 capacity was up 48.4% and load factor climbed 14.2 percentage points to 74.3%, the lowest among regions.

It would be recalled that total passenger traffic market shares for 2021 by region of carriers in terms of RPK were: Asia-Pacific 27.5%, Europe 25.0%, North America 32.6%, Middle East 6.6%, Latin America 6.5%, and Africa 1.9%.

On the other hand, data released for November 2022 global air cargo markets showed that demand softened as economic headwinds persist.

According to the report global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 13.7% compared to November 2021.

Also Capacity (measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers, ACTK) was 1.9% below November 2021.

This was the second year-on-year contraction following the first last month (in October) since April 2022. International cargo capacity decreased 0.1% compared to November 2021.

Compared to pre-COVID-19 levels (November 2019), there was a smaller contraction in overall demand, while capacity was down 8.8%.

Explaining further Walsh said “Air cargo performance softened in November, the traditional peak season. Resilience in the face of economic uncertainties is demonstrated with demand being relatively stable on a month-to-month basis. But market signals are mixed.

“November presented several indicators with upside potential: oil prices stabilized, inflation slowed and there was a slight expansion in goods traded globally. But shrinking export orders globally and China’s rising COVID cases are cause for careful monitoring”.

For the African market, IATA stated that “African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 6.3% in November 2022 compared to November 2021. This was an improvement in performance compared to the previous month. Capacity was 11.4% below November 2021 levels”.