Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pexels

Geneva: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that air travel posted a strong rebound in February compared to January 2022, as Omicron-related impacts moderated outside of Asia, the state news agency WAM reported.

Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 215.3 per cent in February compared to the previous year, well up compared to the 145 per cent increase in January 2022, versus the same month in 2021, according to IATA.

Globally, February capacity rose 89.5 per cent versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 25.8 percentage points to 64.7 per cent.

Revenue passenger kilometres up 115.9%

Total traffic in February 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) was up 115.9 per cent compared to February 2021. That is an improvement from January 2022, which was up 83.1 per cent compared to the same period last year. Compared to February 2019, however, traffic was down 45.5 per cent.

February 2022 domestic traffic was up 60.7 per cent compared to the year-ago period, building on a 42.6 per cent increase in January 2022 compared to January 2021.

There was wide variation in markets tracked by IATA. Domestic traffic in February was 21.8 per cent below the volumes of February 2019.

Willie Walsh
The recovery in air travel is gathering steam as governments in many parts of the world lift travel restrictions, said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

International RPKs rose 256.8 per cent versus February 2021, improved from a 165.5 per cent year-over-year increase in January 2022 versus the year-earlier period.

Accelerated growth

All regions improved their performance compared to the prior month. In February international RPKs were down 59.6 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.

"The recovery in air travel is gathering steam as governments in many parts of the world lift travel restrictions. States that persist in attempting to lock out the disease, rather than managing it, as we do with other diseases, risk missing out on the enormous economic and societal benefits that restoration of international connectivity will bring," said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

The peak Northern summer travel season will be critical for jobs throughout the travel and tourism value chain. Now is the time to prepare.

- Willie Walsh of IATA

The accelerated growth recorded in February compared to a year ago is helping passenger demand catch up to 2019 levels. Total RPKs in February were down 45.5 per cent compared to February 2019, well ahead of the 49.6 per cent decline recorded in January versus the same month in 2019. The domestic recovery continues to outpace that of international markets.

"As the long-awaited recovery in air travel accelerates, it is important that our infrastructure providers are prepared for a huge increase in passenger numbers in the coming months," said Walsh. "Governments can help by ensuring that border positions are staffed adequately and that background security checks for new staff are managed as efficiently as possible."