Air passenger traffic fell in March compared to pre-Covid levels (March 2019) but rose compared to the immediate month prior (February 2021), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.
Total demand for air travel in March measured in revenue passenger kilometres was down 67.2 per cent compared to March 2019. That was an improvement over the 74.9 per cent decline recorded in February 2021 versus February 2019.
The better performance was driven by gains in domestic markets. International traffic remained largely restricted.International passenger demand in March was 87.8 per cent below March 2019, a very small improvement from the 89 per cent decline recorded in February 2021 versus two years ago. Total domestic demand was down 32.3 per cent versus pre-crisis levels (March 2019), greatly improved over February 2021, when domestic traffic was down 51.2 per cent versus the 2019 period.
All markets except India and Brazil showed improvement compared to February 2021.
“The positive momentum we saw in some key domestic markets in March is an indication of the strong recovery we are anticipating in international markets as travel restrictions are lifted,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“People want and need to fly. And we can be optimistic that they will do so when restrictions are removed,” he said in a statement.
Asia Pacific airlines’ March international traffic was down 94.8 per cent compared to March 2019, barely better than the 95.4 per cent decline registered in February 2021 versus February 2019.
The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for a ninth consecutive month. Capacity was down 87 per cent and the load factor sank 48.6 percentage points to 31.9 per cent, the lowest among regions.
IATA says although government restrictions and rising cases are preventing a rebound in air travel, strong economic activity is encouraging for future travel demand.
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