Global air travel posts strong rebound in February, says IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that air travel posted a strong rebound in February this year compared to January, as Omicron-related impacts moderated outside of Asia. Interestingly, the war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, did not have a major impact on traffic levels. 


Total traffic in February 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 115.9% compared to last year. That is an improvement from January 2022, which was up 83.1% compared to January 2021. Compared to February 2019, however, traffic was down 45.5%, stated IATA.  


Regionwise, the Middle Eastern carriers did reasonably well with the traffic in the region surging 215.3% in February compared to last year, well up compared to the 145% increase in January 2022, versus the same month in 2021.


February capacity rose 89.5% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 25.8 percentage points to 64.7%, it stated. 


Domestic traffic on the rise


According to IATA, the February domestic traffic was up 60.7% compared to last year, building on a 42.6% increase in the previous month over January 2021.


There was wide variation in markets tracked by IATA. Domestic traffic in February was 21.8% below the volumes of February 2019.


According to IATA, international RPKs rose 256.8% versus February 2021, improved from a 165.5% year-over-year increase in January 2022 versus the year-earlier period. 


February 2022 international RPKs were down 59.6% compared to the same month in 2019, it added.


"The recovery in air travel is gathering steam as governments in many parts of the world lift travel restrictions," remarked Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 


"States that persist in attempting to lock-out the disease, rather than managing it, as we do with other diseases, risk missing out on the enormous economic and societal benefits that a restoration of international connectivity will bring," he added.


According to the global aviation body, all regions improved their performance compared to the prior month. 


Solid performance


European carriers saw their February traffic rise 380.6% versus February 2021, improved over the 224.3% increase in January 2022 versus the same month in 2021. Capacity rose 174.8%, and load factor climbed 30.3 percentage points to 70.9%. 


Asia-Pacific airlines had a 144.4% rise in February traffic compared to February 2021, up somewhat over the 125.8% gain registered in January 2022 versus January 2021. Capacity rose 60.8% and the load factor was up 16.1 percentage points to 47.0%, the lowest among regions. 


North American carriers experienced a 236.7% traffic rise in February versus the 2021 period, significantly increased compared to the 149.0% rise in January 2022 over January 2021. Capacity rose 91.7%, and load factor climbed 27.4 percentage points to 63.6%. 


Latin American airlines’ February traffic rose 242.7% compared to the same month in 2021, well up over the 155.2% rise in January 2022 compared to January 2021. February capacity rose 146.3% and load factor increased 21.7 percentage points to 77.0%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the 17th consecutive month. 


African airlines had a 69.5% rise in February RPKs versus a year ago, a large improvement compared to the 20.5% year-over-year increase recorded in January 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. February 2022 capacity was up 34.7% and load factor climbed 12.9 percentage points to 63%.




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