Skip to content
Home » Aviation News » Editor's Picks » IATA Reports Strong Airline Passenger Recovery in 2023

IATA Reports Strong Airline Passenger Recovery in 2023

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reporting a positive trend in the resurgence of air travel as of December 2023. A substantial improvement in the number of airline passengers flying in 2023 marked a significant step towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

passengers seated on the plane
Photo by Domenico Bandiera on

Here are the key points highlighting the growth in air travel:

  • Overall Growth: Regarding total air travel in 2023, there was a noticeable upturn of 36.9% compared to the previous year. Looking at the bigger picture, the aggregate traffic for the year stood at a promising 94.1% of the levels recorded in 2019 before the global crisis commenced.
  • Rise in December: Traffic in December 2023 alone experienced a 25.3% rise from the same month in 2022. Remarkably, this brought December’s figures to 97.5% of the numbers in the same month of the pre-pandemic year.
  • Fourth Quarter Surge: The final quarter of 2023 showed a robust recovery, achieving 98.2% of the traffic compared to the corresponding quarter 2019.
  • International Travel: 2023 was a year of rebound for international flights, witnessing a 41.6% increase from 2022. For the entire year, international travel reached 88.6% of the volume seen in 2019. December’s international traffic continued at a similar pace, with a 24.2% increase compared to December 2022 and reaching 94.7% in December 2019.
  • Domestic Flights: On the domestic front, 2023 was a year that surpassed pre-pandemic figures. Overall, domestic traffic rose 30.4% over the previous year, 3.9% higher than in 2019. Impressively, December’s domestic traffic grew by 27.0% over the previous year and exceeded the 2019 December traffic by 2.3%.

These numbers indicate that despite the challenges faced in the past few years, the demand for air travel is on a strong incline, pacing steadily towards the familiar skies of pre-pandemic air travel levels.

IATA: Air passenger market in Detail. December 2023
IATA: Air passenger market in Detail. December 2023

International Airline Passenger Markets

Strong Growth in Asia-Pacific Airline Traffic in 2023

In a year of strong recovery, Asia-Pacific airlines soared with an impressive 126.1% increase in international traffic in 2023 compared to the previous year, outpacing all other regions. The sector’s capacity growth followed suit at 101.8%, while the load factor – an indicator of how full flights are – leapt 9.0 percentage points to reach 83.1%. The tail end of the year echoed this positive trend, with December traffic up by 56.9% from December 2022.

European Airlines Experience Annual Traffic Boost

The aviation market in Europe also enjoyed success, with European carriers registering a 22.0% boost in traffic for the full year against 2022. Their capacity rose by 17.5%, and the load factor nudged upward by 3.1 percentage points to 83.8%, marking a milestone in December where traffic exceeded 2019’s pre-pandemic levels for the first time, up 13.6% from December 2022.

Middle Eastern Carriers on an Upward Trajectory

Middle Eastern airlines reported healthy growth, with a 33.3% increase in traffic in 2023 when stacked against 2022’s figures. With capacity increasing by 26.0% and load factors rising by 4.4 percentage points up to 80.1%, December saw a significant uplift in demand by 16.6% compared to the same month the previous year.

North American Airlines See Continued Recovery

Tapping into the global upturn, North American carriers showed resilience and growth, with a 28.3% uptick in annual traffic for 2023. Capacity expanded by 22.4%, and the load factor increased by 3.9 percentage points to a hearty 84.6%. December continued on this positive note, with a 13.5% increase in traffic compared to the same period in 2022.

Latin American Airlines Hit Highest Load Factor

Continuing the trend, Latin American airlines posted a 28.6% rise in traffic in 2023 over the previous year. They expanded their capacity by 25.4% and achieved the highest load factor of all regions at 84.7%, with an increase of 2.1 percentage points. Demand in December mirrored this robust expansion, jumping 26.5% from December 2022.

African Airlines on the Rise Despite Challenges

On the African front, African airlines made notable strides in 2023, with a 38.7% hike in annual traffic compared to 2022. Capacity saw an almost parallel increase at 38.3%, while the load factor rose slightly by 0.2 percentage points to 71.9%, despite being the lowest among the regions. The upward trend continued into December with a 9.5% rise in traffic compared to December 2022.

Domestic Airline Passenger Markets

China’s domestic traffic for the year rose 138.8% compared to 2022 and 7.1% above 2019.

Australia (-4.2% compared to 2019) and Japan (-3.2% compared to 2019) are the only major domestic markets yet to recover pre-pandemic traffic demand.

Total Air Passenger Markets December 2023

Airline Post-Pandemic Rebound Continues

“The strong post-pandemic rebound continued in 2023. December traffic stood just 2.5% below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in quarter 4, teeing-up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

“The recovery in travel is good news. The restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations and much more. But to maximize the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world, governments need to take a strategic approach. That means providing cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production to meet our net zero carbon emission goal by 2050, and adopting regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit. Completing the recovery must not be an excuse for governments to forget the critical role of aviation to increasing the prosperity and well-being of people and businesses the world over,” Walsh added.

The Bottom Line

“Our push to connect our world even more strongly than before the pandemic must not come at the expense of our environment. The industry’s goal to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 remains steadfast. To accelerate the transition, we need governments and fuel suppliers to step up and do more. We saw a strong increase in the use of SAF in 2023, but SAF is still only 3% of all global renewable fuels production. That is unacceptable. Aircraft have no option but to rely on liquid fuels, whereas other transport modes have alternatives. A massive collective effort is needed to increase SAF output as a proportion of overall renewable fuel production as quickly as possible,” said Walsh.

Additional Notes From IATA

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents approximately 320 airlines, or 83% of global air traffic.
  • IATA Economics compiles statistics using direct airline reporting and estimates, including FlightRadar24 data under license.
  • All data provided is provisional, combining total reported figures at publication with estimates for missing data, and is subject to future revision.
  • In 2022, domestic Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKs) comprised about 41.9% of the total market, with the six domestic markets discussed representing 31.3% of global RPKs.
  • Key terms explained:
    • RPK: Revenue Passenger Kilometers, measuring actual passenger traffic
    • ASK: Available Seat Kilometers, measuring available passenger capacity
    • PLF: Passenger Load Factor, indicating the percentage of available seats filled.
  • IATA statistics encompass international and domestic scheduled air traffic for member and non-member airlines.
  • Regional market shares for total passenger traffic in 2022, based on RPK, are distributed as follows: Asia-Pacific 22.1%, Europe 30.8%, North America 28.8%, Middle East 9.8%, Latin America 6.4%, and Africa 2.1%.

IATA Airline Passenger Market Analysis December 2023

Global Air Cargo Market Rebounds in 2023 Despite Economic Challenges

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported a noticeable rebound in the air carg…

Read More
passengers seated on the plane
IATA Reports Strong Airline Passenger Recovery in 2023

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reporting a positive trend in the resurgence o…

Read More
IATA, ICAO Collaborate On Safe Air Transport of Dangerous Goods

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization…

Read More
man in airport waiting for boarding on plane
Air Travel Recovery Reaches 99% Of 2019 Passenger Traffic

The latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals that air travel reco…

Read More
IATA Cargo Report For November 2023 Shows Strong Demand

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for November 2023 global air cargo …

Read More
Oneworld Becomes First Airline Alliance To Join IATA CO2 Connect

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the oneworld Alliance have joined forces to e…

Read More
Passenger Traffic Rose by 31.2% In October, IATA Stats to Know

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently reported a positive trend in passeng…

Read More
Air Cargo Increases For 3rd Consecutive Month, IATA Stats to Know

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently released data for October 2023 globa…

Read More
people walking inside airline
European Airfares Undercut Consumer Product Inflation

According to recent data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), European tr…

Read More

IAG Full Year 2023 Financial Results Show Strong Growth

The International Airlines Group (IAG) has published its full-year 2023 financial results, showing a…

Read More
Qantas Group Profit Drops 13% In H1 FY24

Qantas Group has published its HQ FY24 results, showing a 13% drop in profits partially offset by fr…

Read More
Qantas Reveals New A220 Cabin And Wi-Fi Plans

Qantas Group has presented its H1 2024 update while updating fleet plans, revealing the new A220 cab…

Read More
Malaysia Airlines Picks Thales Flight Safety Systems For A330neo

Malaysia Airlines Enhances A330neo Fleet with Thales Avionics for Improved Safety and Navigation Mal…

Read More
Emirates Is Hiring Cabin Crew: Delight In Luxurious Beauty Hub

Experience the Glamour at Emirates Beauty Hub: Your Perk as an Emirates Cabin Crew in Dubai Attentio…

Read More
SIA Group: Strong Q3 $659 Million Profit As Passengers Surge

SIA Group, which operates both luxury flagship carrier Singapore Airlines and low-cost airline Scoot…

Read More
SWISS Reflects On Strong Impact Of Departing CFO Markus Binkert

SWISS Chief Financial Officer Markus Binkert will leave the company after serving over 19 years. Mar…

Read More
Remarkable Turnaround: Norwegian Sets New Profit Record In 2023

Norwegian has published its financials for 2023, reporting a company-record operating profit (EBIT) …

Read More

JetBlue, Empire State Development Debut New JFK Terminal 5 Skywalk

In collaboration with Empire State Development, JetBlue celebrated the unveiling of the rebranded Sk…

Read More
You Now Can Enjoy 8 New Restaurants At Helsinki Airport

Helsinki Airport, known for its efficiency and passenger-friendly design, is committed to providing …

Read More
SAS Returns To Sandefjord With New Service To Copenhagen

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) is reestablishing its presence at TORP Sandefjord Airport, with t…

Read More
Etihad Airways Launches New Routes To Antalya and Jaipur

Etihad Airways expands its schedule with two stunning new destinations and additional flights. Etiha…

Read More
Wizz Air Expands Budapest Airport Base With New Routes

Budapest Airport Expands with Wizz Air: Six New Routes and More Flights for Summer 2024 Budapest Air…

Read More
QantasLink’s New Airbus A220 Takes First Flight

Today marks the debut of QantasLink‘s Airbus A220 aircraft with their first commercial flights…

Read More
Enjoy New Fine Dining At La Girafe In Arlanda Airport’s Marketplace

Stockholm Arlanda Airport enhances its dining options by opening La Girafe, a new restaurant by reno…

Read More
Condor Picks RECARO To Boost New Economy Class Experience

Condor Chooses RECARO’s BL3710 and SL3710 Seats for Enhanced Economy Comfort Condor, the Germa…

Read More
airplane window opened
2023 Was A Record Year For Aviation Safety, IATA Shares Stats

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its 2023 Annual Safety Report for global…

Read More
IAG Full Year 2023 Financial Results Show Strong Growth

The International Airlines Group (IAG) has published its full-year 2023 financial results, showing a…

Read More

Leave a Reply

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner