According to trade association data, global air travel maintained its recovery from the pandemic in September, with passenger volume increasing by 57 percent compared to 2021.
Passenger traffic reached 74% of pre-pandemic levels in September as passengers hurried back to travel following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, according to figures released on Monday by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The Asia-Pacific region, where border controls have been relaxed more slowly than in other regions, saw by far the largest increase in travel, with passenger traffic up 465 percent over the previous year.
Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan recently eased border controls in an effort to rebuild their tourism economies, which were weakened by the pandemic. China, by far the region’s largest economy, continues to prohibit non-essential travel for its residents and subject all arrivals to a 10-day quarantine as part of its ultra-strict “dynamic zero COVID” policy.
Middle Eastern carriers saw the largest increase in passenger traffic at 150 percent, followed by North American and Latin American carriers, which saw increases of 129 percent and 99 percent, respectively.
African airlines’ traffic increased by 91%, while European carriers’ traffic increased by 78%.
When domestic and international traffic are split, international traffic increased by 122%, while domestic traffic increased by 7%.
In contrast, global air cargo demand declined 11% from September 2021 to September 2022, although slightly below pre-pandemic levels due to slowing economies and recession fears.
Given the economic and geopolitical uncertainties, IATA Director General Willie Walsh hailed the results as a promising sign for global aviation.
“The outlier is still China with its pursuit of a zero-COVID strategy keeping borders largely closed and creating a demand roller coaster ride for its domestic market, with September being down 46.4 percent on the previous year,” Walsh said.
“That is in sharp contrast to the rest of Asia Pacific, which, despite China’s dismal performance, posted a 464.8 percent increase for international traffic compared to the year-ago period.”
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