Global travel demand continued to improve in November, Iata says

International passenger traffic nearly doubled year-on-year

Willie Walsh, Iata's director general, said governments were 'still playing science politics' when it comes to travel and Covid-19 measures. Photo: Iata
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Global airlines continued to benefit from increasing air travel demand in November, with all regions recording growth, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Total passenger traffic worldwide increased 41.3 per cent annually in November, reaching 75.3 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Iata said in its monthly report.

International passenger traffic nearly doubled from the previous November, rising 85.2 per cent and also reaching 73.7 per cent of November 2019 levels.

Demand for domestic travel in November also increased 3.4 per cent year-on-year, when travel restrictions in China continued to weigh on the segment. Total domestic traffic was at 77.7 per cent of November 2019 levels.

"Traffic results in November reinforce that consumers are thoroughly enjoying the freedom to travel," said Willie Walsh, Iata's director general.

Commenting on the reopening of China's borders for international travel in January, he said many governments were "still playing science politics", as countries impose testing requirements on Chinese travellers.

"Governments should focus on using available tools to manage Covid-19 effectively — including improved therapeutics and vaccinations — rather than repeating policies that have failed time and again over the last three years,” he said.

All regions recorded a modest increase in seat capacity, lifting industry-wide seat capacity slightly in November compared with October, Iata said.

Recovery trends for international traffic in the premium and economy-cabin classes "remain broadly aligned", Iata said.

Demand for economy-class seats — including premium economy — reached 79.6 per cent of its January 2020 level in July last year.

Premium-class demand — referring to first and business-class cabins — fared nearly as well, recording 74.2 per cent of the January 2020 level.

Middle Eastern airlines recorded an 84.6 per cent year-on-year growth in November, virtually unchanged from October. Seat capacity in November increased 45.4 per cent year-on-year. Load factor, a measure of how well airlines fill available seats, climbed 16.5 percentage points to 77.7 per cent.

Global air cargo demand 'softened'

Global air freight demand in November continued to soften as economic headwinds persisted and the pandemic-induced cargo boom lost steam, Iata said in its monthly report.

Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, fell 13.7 per cent compared with November 2021, the data showed.

Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres, was 1.9 per cent below November 2021 levels. This was the second year-on-year contraction following the first decline in October since April 2022.

"Air cargo performance softened in November, the traditional peak season. Resilience in the face of economic uncertainties is demonstrated with demand being relatively stable on a month-to-month basis," Mr Walsh said.

Several factors influenced the operating environment, including shrinking in global new export orders in major economies, a sharp appreciation in the US dollar and a reduction in inflation in producer prices in November compared with October.

"Market signals are mixed," Mr Walsh said. "November presented several indicators with upside potential: oil prices stabilised, inflation slowed and there was a slight expansion in goods traded globally.

"But shrinking export orders globally and China’s rising Covid cases are cause for careful monitoring."

Updated: January 10, 2023, 10:30 AM