November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
The dropping of entry restrictions in many countries helped spur a wave of international travel in April, according to the International Air Transport Association. China was the most notable exception to the strong global recovery trend.
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April passenger air volume was down 37.2 per cent recovered compared with April 2019 levels, versus March's decline of 41.3 per cent in the commensurate period. Revenue passenger kilometres in April were up 78.7 per cent year over year, compared with an increase of 76 per cent in March.
"With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities," IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement.
Total April global capacity as measured in available seat kilometres was up 45.5 per cent year over year, close to the 46 per cent increase reported the month before. Capacity was down 32.9 per cent compared with April 2019.
Europe's year-over-year increases in traffic and capacity were the world's highest, at 301.6 per cent and 172.5 per cent, respectively. The only region where traffic and capacity declined year over year was Asia Pacific, which plummeted 25.4 per cent and 25.3 per cent, respectively.
That figure was driven by China, which spent April restricting travel amid an outbreak of the Covid-19 omicron variant. April domestic traffic in China declined 80.8 per cent year over year, and capacity dropped 73.6 per cent.
"April data is cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel," according to Walsh. "The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognise this success soon and take its own steps towards normality."
China's restrictions "entirely" drove a year-over-year decline of 1 per cent in April global domestic air demand, as compared to March's 10.8 per cent year-over-year increase.
The United States, Australia, Brazil, India and Japan each recorded strong year-over-year domestic demand and capacity increases in April.
Total global load factor was 77.8 per cent.
In noting the demand rebound following border reopenings, Walsh criticised the manner in which governments handled Covid-19 restrictions and the recovery.
"With governments making U-turns and policy changes, there was uncertainty until the last minute, leaving little time to restart an industry that was largely dormant for two years," according to Walsh. "It is no wonder that we are seeing operational delays in some locations. In those few locations where these problems are recurring, solutions need to be found so passengers can travel with confidence."