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Passenger Traffic Skyrockets in July 2023: A Look into IATA’s Latest Insights

A heartening wave of post-COVID recovery enthusiasm swept through passenger air markets in July, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed.

Passenger load factors reach historic levels, IATA Passenger Traffic Report
Credit: Pietro_Ballardini Source: iStock Photo

Key Insights from July 2023

  • Soaring Total Traffic: An impressive 26.2% rise from July 2022 has pushed global traffic to touch 95.6% of pre-COVID levels.
  • Domestic Dominance: Boosted mainly by China’s domestic demand, domestic air traffic witnessed a 21.5% jump from the previous year. Interestingly, this figure surpasses the July 2019 results by 8.3%, setting a new record for RPKs.
  • International Flights in High Demand: July 2023 saw a rise of 29.6% in international traffic from a year ago. Furthermore, the passenger load factor (PLF) reached a historic 85.7%, the highest-ever monthly international PLF recorded.

IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, remarked, “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. For example, the performance of some of the key air navigation service providers 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”

Regional Breakdown for July 2023

  • Asia-Pacific: Leading the charge with a 105.8% increase in traffic compared to July 2022. The load factor rose by 3.9 percentage points to 84.5%.
  • Europe: Saw a growth of 13.8% in traffic compared to the previous year.
  • Middle East: An impressive 22.6% increase was observed, with load factors improving slightly to 82.6%.
  • North America: Carriers experienced a 17.7% rise in traffic, boasting the highest regional load factor at 90.3%.
  • Latin America: Traffic ascended by 25.3% from July 2022, and the load factor reached 89.1%.
  • Africa: The traffic increased by 25.6%, marking the second-highest regional growth. However, its load factor was the lowest among regions at 73.9%.

Domestic Markets in Spotlight

China emerged as the strongest domestic market, skyrocketing with a 71.9% increase from last year. US airlines, too, saw an 11.1% rise in domestic demand.

US airlines’ domestic demand climbed 11.1% in July and was 3.0% above the July 2019 level.

The Bigger Picture — International Markets (Table)

July 2023 (% ch year-on-year)World share1RPKASKPLF (%-pt)2PLF (level)3
Total Market 100.0%26.2%23.7%1.7%85.2%
Africa2.1%25.0%26.3%-0.8%74.6%
Asia Pacific22.1%67.1%53.4%6.7%81.6%
Europe30.8%11.7%11.5%0.2%87.7%
Latin America6.4%15.5%11.4%3.1%86.7%
Middle East9.8%21.9%21.0%0.6%82.1%
North America28.8%13.2%11.9%1.0%89.7%

1% of industry RPKs in 2022   2year-on-year change in load factor   3Load Factor Level

Note: All statistics mentioned above are provisional and subject to revision. They cover international and domestic scheduled air traffic for both IATA member and non-member airlines.

Full IATA Passenger Market Analysis for July 2023

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