Airline passenger volumes were 43 per cent of 2019 levels last year according to the latest figures from IATA.
In a briefing from Willie Walsh, director general of the airline organisation, said that domestic travel was down 28 per cent on 2019 levels while international travel was down 76 per cent.
Walsh added that international travel was recovering towards the end of 2021 with the exception of Asia Pacific which he attributed “solely to travel restrictions.”
IATA figures revealed that in 2019 international travel within Asia represented 13 per cent of international travel compared to 2021 when it was just 1.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, Europe represented about half of all international travel in 2021 according to Walsh which he said was a “positive end to the year.”
He also touched on recovery in premium cabins although cautioned that it did not necessarily correlate with business travel.
The premium market was recovering at the same rate as economy travel up until the end of November 2021 with December figures unavailable at the time of the update.
“I think that should come as a surprise to people, particularly those who have, sort of, focused on business travel rather than differentiating between people who travel in the premium cabins and people who travel in the economy cabins, but premium travel recovering at the same pace as economy.”
Already in January there have been signs of improvement especially in Europe. Figures from Eurocontrol for the third week of this month revealed average daily flights flown to be at 63 per cent of 2019 levels.