The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that post-COVID recovery momentum continued in July for passenger markets.
Total traffic in July 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 26.2 per cent compared to July 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 95.6 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
Domestic traffic for July rose 21.5 per cent versus July 2022 and was 8.3 per cent above the July 2019 results, IATA says.
July RPKs are the highest ever recorded, strongly supported by surging demand in the China domestic market.
International traffic climbed 29.6 per cent compared to the same month a year ago with all markets showing robust growth. International RPKs reached 88.7 per cent of July 2019 levels.
“Planes were full during July as people continue to travel in ever greater numbers. Importantly, forward ticket sales indicate that traveler confidence remains high. And there is every reason to be optimistic about the continuing recovery,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
North American carriers, for one, had a 17.7 per cent traffic rise in July 2023 versus the 2022 period.
Capacity for this region increased 17.2 per cent, and load factor improved 0.3 percentage points to 90.3 per cent, which was the highest among the regions for a second consecutive month.
“Living up to expectations”
The bottom line, said Walsh, is that the Northern Hemisphere summer is “living up to expectations for very strong traffic demand.”
“While the industry was largely prepared to accommodate a return to pre-pandemic levels of operations, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our infrastructure providers,” Walsh said.
“Performance of some of the key air navigations services providers, for example, has been deeply disappointing for many reasons from insufficient staffing to the failure fiasco of NATS in the UK. These must be promptly corrected.”
Even more worrying are political decisions by some governments —among them Mexico and the Netherlands, Walsh said—to impose capacity cuts at their major hubs that will “most certainly destroy jobs and damage local and national economies.”
“The numbers continue to tell us that people want and need air connectivity,” he said. “That’s why governments should be working with us so that people can travel safely, sustainably and efficiently.”