African airlines saw 134.9% rise in demand for air travel

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The International Air Transport (IATA) disclosed that African airlines experienced a 134.9 percent increase in demand for air travel in May 2022 when compared to the same period last year. However, load factors remain the lowest worldwide.

The association announced global passenger data for May 2022 showing that the recovery in air travel accelerated heading into the busy Northern Hemisphere summer travel season.

According to IATA African airlines saw a 134.9% rise in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) flown versus a year ago.  RPKs is the standard measure of actual passenger traffic used in the air transport industry. African airlines increased capacity by 78.5% and achieved a 16.4 percentage point rise in the average load factor per flight, taking it to 68.4% – although this was the lowest among all regions worldwide. In May 2022, Africa accounted for 1.9 percent of the total world passenger air travel market.

“The travel recovery continues to gather momentum. People need to travel. And when governments remove COVID-19 restrictions, they do. Many major international route areas – including within Europe and the Middle East-North America routes – are already exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels. Completely removing all COVID-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

According to IATA, the major exception to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a dramatic 73.2% fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year. “Its continuing zero-COVID policy is out-of-step with the rest of the world and it shows in the dramatically slower recovery of China-related travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

According to Walsh, the recovery in travel markets is no less than impressive. “As we accelerate towards the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, strains in the system are appearing in some European and North American hubs. Nobody wants to see passengers suffering from delays or cancellations. But passengers can be confident that solutions are being urgently implemented. Airlines, airports and governments are working together; however, standing up the workforce needed to meet growing demand will take time and require patience in the few locations where the bottlenecks are the most severe.”

Walsh says that in the longer term, governments must improve their understanding of how aviation operates and work more closely with airports and airlines. “Having created so much uncertainty with knee-jerk COVID-19 policy flip-flops and avoiding most opportunities to work in unison based on global standards, their actions did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity. And it is unacceptable that the industry is now facing a potential punitive regulatory deluge as several governments fill their post-COVID-19 regulatory calendars. Aviation has delivered its best when governments and industry work together to agree and implement global standards. That axiom is as true post-COVID-19 as it was in the century before.” said Walsh.

IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 260 air carriers or 83% of total air traffic. The organization supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.

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