The recovery in global air travel remains strong, says the International Air Transport Association (IATA), releasing its passenger data for June 2022.
Total traffic in June 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 76.2% compared to June 2021, primarily propelled by the ongoing strong recovery in international traffic.
Globally, air traffic is now at 70.8% of pre-crisis levels.
Domestic traffic for June 2022 was up 5.2% compared to the year-ago period, IATA says.
Strong improvements in most markets, combined with the easing of some Omicron-related lockdown restrictions in the Chinese domestic market, contributed to the result.
Total June 2022 domestic traffic was at 81.4% of the June 2019 level, the association says.
International traffic rose 229.5% versus June 2021 and the lifting of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia-Pacific is contributing to the recovery.
June 2022 international RPKs reached 65.0% of June 2019 levels.
“Demand for air travel remains strong. After two years of lockdowns and border restrictions people are taking advantage of the freedom to travel wherever they can,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, in a statement.
North American air carriers, for one, experienced a 168.9% traffic rise in June versus the 2021 period.
Capacity rose 95.0%, and load factor climbed 24.1 percentage points to 87.7%, which was the “highest among the regions,” IATA says.
The bottom line?
With the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season now underway, “predictions that the lifting of travel restrictions would unleash a torrent of pent-up travel demand are being borne out,” said Walsh.
“At the same time, meeting that demand has proved challenging and likely will continue to be so. All the more reason to continue to show flexibility to the slot use rules. The European Commission’s intent to return to the longstanding 80-20 requirement is premature.”
Walsh pointed to the issues that airlines and passengers at some hub airports are experiencing.
“These airports are unable to support their declared capacity even with the current 64 per cent slot threshold and have extended recent passenger caps until the end of October,” he said. “Flexibility is still essential in support of a successful recovery.”
Walsh also addressed the topic of airports capping passenger numbers to reduce interruptions, as London’s Heathrow airport has done.
“By capping passenger numbers, airports are preventing airlines from benefitting from the strong demand,” Walsh said. “Heathrow Airport has tried to blame airlines for the disruption. However, Service Level Performance data for the first six months of this year show that they have failed miserably to provide basic services and missed their Passenger Security service target by a massive 14.3 points.”
That data for June has not yet been published but is expected to show the “lowest level of service” by the airport since records began, said Walsh.