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Week 39


Government COVID responses slash global air traffic demand

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October 3rd 2021

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Government responses to the Delta variant of COVID-19 cut deeply into global air passenger traffic in August thanks to a China led deterioration in domestic markets. Read More » New figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show total demand in revenue passenger kilometres for air travel in August was down 56% compared with August 2019. This marked a slowdown from July, when demand was 53.0% below the level of two years ago. The deterioration was entirely driven by domestic markets, which were down 32.2 % in August versus two years ago and compared with 16.1% in July, IATA said. It said the worst impact was in China, where domestic traffic dropped 57% again August two years ago as the government reacted to the Delta variant. However, IATA noted overall cases in China were low and outbreaks mostly were under control, which suggested numbers would improve in September. International passenger demand in August was 68.8 % below two years earlier, which was an improvement over the 73.1% decline recorded in July. IATA said all regions showed improvement, attributing the trend to growing vaccination rates and less stringent international travel restrictions in some jurisdictions. However, Asia-Pacific international traffic was still down 93.4% versus two years ago due to strict border controls. International capacity in the region dropped 85.7% and the load factor was down by 44.9 percentage points to 37.9%, the lowest of any area. “August results reflect the impact of concerns about the Delta variant on domestic travel, even as international travel continued at a snail’s pace to a full recovery that cannot happen until governments restore the freedom to travel,’’ IATA director-general, Willie Walsh, said. “In that regard, the recent U.S. announcement to lift travel restrictions from early November on fully vaccinated travelers is very good news and will bring certainty to a key market. But challenges remain. September bookings indicate a deterioration in international recovery. That’s bad news heading into the traditionally slower fourth quarter.”

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