International air travel lags domestic recovery in April due to travel restrictions, Iata says

Total domestic demand was down 25.7% in April, compared with the same period in 2019 while international travel was down 87.3%

Iata expects the outlook for global airlines to brighten during the second half of the year. Getty
Iata expects the outlook for global airlines to brighten during the second half of the year. Getty

Domestic travel demand improved in April compared with the prior month, although it remained well below pre-pandemic levels, while recovery in international passenger travel continued to stall due to government-imposed travel restrictions.

International passenger demand in April was 87.3 per cent below figures recorded in April 2019, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said.

Overall, total demand for air travel in April 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 65.4 per cent compared with April 2019. That was an improvement over the 66.9 per cent decline recorded in March 2021 versus March 2019. The better performance was driven by gains in most domestic markets.

“The continuing strong recovery in domestic markets tells us that when people are given the freedom to fly, they take advantage of it," said Willie Walsh, Iata's director general. "Unfortunately, that freedom still does not exist in most international markets. When it does, I’m confident we will see a similar resurgence in demand."

Middle Eastern airlines posted an 82.9 per cent demand drop in April compared to April 2019, which was weaker than the 81.6 per cent decline in March, versus the same month in 2019.

Capacity declined 65.3 per cent and load factor fell 41.1 percentage points to 39.6 per cent.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the aviation sector particularly hard, but demand is beginning to recover in fits and starts due to the increased pace of vaccine distribution in many countries across the world.

Iata expects the outlook for global airlines to brighten during the second half of the year. Total air passenger numbers in 2021 will be 52 per cent lower than they were in 2019, before bouncing back in 2022 to 88 per cent of their pre-crisis levels and exceeding pre-pandemic levels (105 per cent) in 2023, the organisation said.

Updated: June 9, 2021 09:03 PM

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