While global airline traffic remains at about three-quarters of 2019 levels, newly released IATA data revealed a stark recovery from 2021 and forecasts continued improvement into 2023.
"July’s performance continued to be strong, with some markets approaching pre-COVID levels," IATA Director General Willie Walsh said on Wednesday.
"And that is even with capacity constraints in parts of the world that were unprepared for the speed at which people returned to travel. There is still more ground to recover, but this is an excellent sign as we head into the traditionally slower autumn and winter quarters in the Northern Hemisphere."
Per the analysis, revenue passenger kilometers rose by 76.2% from the prior year in the month of July, led by an even stronger 86.9% jump in domestic RPKs in markets assessed. Of particular note, Asia Pacific revenue surged 150.6% as signs of loosening restrictions fuel growing demand.
“In China, domestic RPKs continued to ramp up and are now 30.5% below 2019 levels which represents a 19.9 ppts increase from June,” the report stated. “A swift recovery can be expected in this market since every prior easing of travel restrictions has been met with high demand for air travel."
Bank of America’s analysis of both US and European traffic noted steady recovery as well. Announcements by Jet2 (OTCPK:DRTGF) that winter 2022-23 forward bookings have loads matching winter 2019-20, Ryanair (RYAAY) that August traffic tracked above 2019 levels, and Wizz Air (OTCPK:WZZAF) that loads jumped nearly 100% sequentially were each cited as encouraging signals.
"[European] airlines have scheduled 94% of 2019 intra-Europe capacity in 3Q22, with a planned ramp up to 101% in 4Q22, but this could be trimmed closer to flight date," noted analyst Muneeba Kayani. U.S. travelers were also shown to be more keen on international air travel sequentially, continuing a trend back toward 2019 levels that is expected to continue into the holiday season later in the year.
Read more on recent TSA levels signaling a jump back above pre-pandemic levels.
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