Data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has shown that recovery in air travel has accelerated and global air cargo markets have recorded performance improvements
The data shows that total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 83.1% compared to May 2021. Global traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-Covid levels.
Domestic traffic was up 0.2% compared to last year, representing 76.7% of pre-Covid levels and international traffic rose 325.8% so that RPKs reached 64.1% of May 2019 levels.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, commented, “The travel recovery continues to gather momentum. People need to travel. And when governments remove Covid-19 restrictions, they do. Many major international route areas – including within Europe, and the Middle East-North America routes - are already exceeding pre-Covid-19 levels.”
African airlines experienced a welcome 134.9% rise in May RPKs versus last year, with capacity climbing 78.5% and load factor rising by 14.5% to 68.4% – although this is still the lowest among regions.
The IATA has also released data for the air cargo market, indicating that global demand (measured in cargo tonne-kilometres or CTKs) was 8.3% below May 2021 levels. Capacity, however, was 2.7% above May 2021 which offset the 0.7% year-on-year drop experienced in April. Capacity expanded in all regions with Asia-Pacific experiencing the largest growth.
“May offered positive news for air cargo, most notably because of the easing of some Omicron restrictions in China. On a seasonally adjusted basis, we saw growth (0.3%) after two months of decline. The return of Asian production as Covid-19 measures eased, particularly in China, will support demand for air cargo. And the strong rebound in passenger traffic has increased belly capacity, although not always in the markets where the capacity crunch is most critical. But uncertainty in the overall economic situation will need to be carefully watched,” said Walsh.
African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 1.5% in May 2022 compared to May 2021 which was significantly slower than the growth recorded the previous month (6.3%). Capacity was 3.0% above May 2021 levels.