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Air Travel Recovery Reaches 99% Of 2019 Passenger Traffic

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals that air travel recovery remains strong. Passenger demand surged to 99% of 2019 levels in November 2023. Global traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), increased by 29.7% compared to the same month in 2022.

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International air traffic experienced a substantial 26.4% growth year-over-year, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way with an impressive 63.8% increase. In November 2023, international RPKs reached 94.5% of the levels reported in November 2019.

Meanwhile, domestic air travel also soared by 34.8% compared to November 2022. Total domestic traffic in November 2023 exceeded the levels seen in the same month in 2019 by 6.7%. Notably, China saw exceptional growth at +272% as it rebounded from the travel restrictions of the previous year, while US domestic travel reached record highs with a 9.1% expansion over November 2019, driven by robust Thanksgiving holiday demand.

Air Travel Recovery Shows the Importance of Flying to People and Businesses

“We are moving ever closer to surpassing the 2019 peak year for air travel. Economic headwinds are not deterring people from taking to the skies. International travel remains 5.5% below pre-pandemic levels but that gap is rapidly closing. And domestic markets have been above their pre-pandemic levels continuously since April,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“Aviation’s rapid recovery from COVID demonstrates just how important flying is to people and to businesses. In parallel to aviation’s recovery, governments recognized the urgency of transitioning from jet fuel to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for aviation’s decarbonization. The Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in November saw governments agree that we should see 5% carbon savings by 2030 from SAF. This was followed up at COP28 in December where governments agreed that we need a broad transition from fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  Airlines don’t need convincing. They agreed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and every drop of SAF ever made in that effort has been bought and used. There simply is not enough SAF being produced. So we look to 2024 to be the year when governments follow-up on their own declarations and finally deliver comprehensive policy measures to incentivize the rapid scaling-up of SAF production,” Walsh concluded.

Air passenger market in detail – November 2023

International Passenger Markets

In November 2023, Asia-Pacific airlines experienced a remarkable 63.8% increase in air traffic compared to the same period in 2022, marking the highest year-over-year growth among all regions. The capacity rose by 58.0%, leading to a 2.9 percentage point increase in the load factor, reaching 82.6%.

Meanwhile, European carriers saw a 14.8% rise in November traffic compared to November 2022, with a 15.2% increase in capacity. However, the load factor declined slightly by 0.3 percentage points to 83.3%.

Middle Eastern airlines also demonstrated solid growth, with an 18.6% increase in traffic compared to November 2022. Although the November capacity rose by 19.0%, the load factor decreased by 0.2 percentage points to 77.4%.

North American carriers experienced a 14.3% increase in November traffic compared to the same period in 2022, with a 16.3% increase in capacity. The load factor, however, decreased by 1.4 percentage points, settling at 80.0%.

Latin American airlines saw a substantial 20.0% increase in November traffic compared to November 2022. November’s capacity also rose by 17.7%, and the load factor experienced a notable increase of 1.7 percentage points, reaching 84.9%, the highest among all regions.

In contrast, African airlines reported a 22.1% rise in November RPKs compared to the previous year. However, the capacity saw a significant increase of 29.6%, leading to a 4.3 percentage point decline in the load factor, which reached 69.7%, the lowest among all regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets in November 2023

Air Passenger Market Detail 

IATA Passenger Market Analysis for November 2023

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