Passenger Traffic Recovery Continues

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger data for March 2022 demonstrating that the recovery of air travel continues. Impacts from the conflict in Ukraine on air travel demand were quite limited overall while Omicron-related effects continued to be confined largely to Asian domestic markets.

Note: We have returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period, unless otherwise noted. Owing to the low traffic base in 2021, some markets will show very high year-on-year growth rates, even if the size of these markets is still significantly smaller than they were in 2019.

  • Total traffic in March 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 76.0% compared to March 2021. Although that was lower than the 115.9% rise in February year-over-year demand, volumes in March were the closest to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, at 41% below.
  • March 2022 domestic traffic was up 11.7% compared to the year-ago period, far below the 59.4% year-over-year improvement recorded in February. This largely was a result of the Omicron-related lockdowns in China. March domestic RPKs were down 23.2% versus March 2019.
  • International RPKs rose 285.3% versus March 2021, exceeding the 259.2% gain experienced in February versus the year-earlier period. Most regions boosted their performance compared to the prior month, led by carriers in Europe. March 2022 international RPKs were down 51.9% compared to the same month in 2019.

“With barriers to travel coming down in most places, we are seeing the long-expected surge in pent-up demand finally being realized. Unfortunately, we are also seeing long delays at many airports with insufficient resources to handle the growing numbers. This must be addressed urgently to avoid frustrating consumer enthusiasm for air travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

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This article is written by

Tijn Kramer