Air Travel is Increasing Again But is Not Yet at Pre-Corona Levels

People retook more planes last year, but global passenger traffic remained almost a third below the level of 2019, before the corona pandemic. This is evident from figures from the international association of airlines IATA on Monday.

“The industry has ended 2022 in much better shape than it started the year,” IATA chief executive Willie Walsh said in a press release. “Most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year, and people took advantage of their newfound freedom to travel.”

For example, the demand for air travel (expressed in paid passenger kilometres) was almost two-thirds higher last year than in 2021, according to IATA. This is also apparent from the comparison with 2019 – before corona. In 2021, demand was 41.7 percent of the 2019 level; in 2022, it was 68.5 percent. And by December last year, the difference from 2019 had fallen to less than a quarter (76.9 percent).

Compared to 2021, international air traffic recovered, more than doubling. In December, it was at 75 percent of the 2019 level, where it was 80 percent for domestic passenger flights.

Walsh expects 2023 to bring further recovery “despite some governments overreacting to China’s reopening.” Several countries took measures after the relaxation of measures in China despite a corona wave. In addition, the wastewater from flights from China is analysed.

In terms of cargo transport by air, IATA recorded an 8 percent decrease last year compared to 2021. During the corona crisis, cargo transport peaked, thanks to the transport of corona vaccines and online trade, among other things. Air freight transport is almost back to the same level as in 2019.

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