The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the post-COVID recovery momentum continued in July for passenger markets. Total traffic in July 2023, the summer travel period, rose 26.2 per cent compared to July 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 95.6 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
IATA factsheet, released recently, shows that international traffic climbed 29.6 per cent compared to the same month a year ago with all markets showing robust growth. International Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKs) reached 88.7 per cent of July 2019 levels. The passenger load factor (PLF) for the industry reached 85.7 per cent which is the highest monthly international PLF ever recorded. IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, noted that planes were full during July as people continue to travel in ever greater numbers.
“Importantly, forward ticket sales indicate that traveler confidence remains high. And there is every reason to be optimistic about the continuing recovery,” Walsh said.
In the regional performance section, African airlines saw a 25.6 per cent traffic increase in July 2023 versus a year ago, the second highest percentage gain among the regions.
July capacity was up 27.4 per cent and load factor fell 1.0 percentage point to 73.9 per cent, the lowest among the regions. For a second month in a row, Africa was the only region to see capacity growth outrun traffic demand.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 105.8 per cent increase in July 2023 traffic compared to July 2022, continuing to lead the regions. Capacity climbed 96.2 per cent and the load factor increased by 3.9 percentage points to 84.5 per cent.
European carriers’ July traffic rose 13.8 per cent versus July 2022. Capacity increased 13.6 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 87.0 per cent.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 22.6 per cent increase in July traffic compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 22.1 per cent and load factor climbed 0.3 percentage points to 82.6 per cent.
North American carriers had a 17.7 per cent traffic rise in July 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 17.2 per cent, and load factor improved 0.3 percentage points to 90.3 per cent, which was the highest among the regions for a second consecutive month.
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 25.3 per cent compared to the same month in 2022. July capacity climbed 21.2 per cent and load factor rose 2.9 percentage points to 89.1 per cent.
Walsh said the Northern Hemisphere summer is living up to expectations for very strong traffic demand. While the industry was largely prepared to accommodate a return to pre-pandemic levels of operations, unfortunately, “the same cannot be said for our infrastructure providers.”
“Performance of some of the key air navigation services providers, for example, has been deeply disappointing for many reasons from insufficient staffing to the failure fiasco of NATS in the UK. These must be promptly corrected.”
“Even more worrying, however, are political decisions by some governments—among them Mexico and the Netherlands—to impose capacity cuts at their major hubs that will most certainly destroy jobs and damage local and national economies. The numbers continue to tell us that people want and need air connectivity. That’s why governments should be working with us so that people can travel safely, sustainably, and efficiently,” Walsh said.