IATA is reporting a moderate rebound in air travel in September 2021 compared to August’s performance. The rebound was driven by recovery in domestic markets, in particular China, where some travel curbs were lifted following the COVID-19 outbreaks in August.
On the other hand, IATA says that international demand slipped slightly compared to the previous month.
In reporting the results, the global airline industry association notes that because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to September 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
* Total demand for air travel in September 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.4% compared to September 2019. This marked an uptick from August, when demand was 56.0% below August 2019 levels.
* Domestic markets were down 24.3% compared to September 2019, a significant improvement from August 2021, when traffic was down 32.6% versus two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, although the latter remained in solid growth territory compared to 2019.
* International passenger demand in September was 69.2% below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7% decline recorded in August.
Willie Walsh, director general of IATA, observed that: “September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid continuing border closures and quarantine mandates. The recent US policy change to reopen travel from 33 markets for fully vaccinated foreigners from 8 November is a welcome, if long overdue, development. Along with recent re-openings in other key markets like Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore this should give a boost to the large-scale restoration of the freedom to travel.”
As for the bottom line, Walsh said that: “Each re-opening announcement seems to come with similar but different rules. We cannot let the recovery get bogged down in complication. The ICAO High Level Conference on COVID-19 agreed that harmonization should be a priority. The G20 declared a commitment to take action to support a recovery with seamless travel, sustainability, and digitalization. Now governments must put actions behind these words to realize simple and effective measures. People, jobs, businesses and economies are counting on real progress.”
IATA repeatedly made it clear that its vision for safely re-establishing global connectivity was based on five key principles:
- Vaccines should be available to all as quickly as possible
- Vaccinated travelers should not face any barriers to travel
- Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine
- Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes, and
- Governments should pay for testing, so it does not become an economic barrier to travel
Go to www.iata.org for more.