The recovery of air travel demand continued strongly in January 2023, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reaching 84.2% of pre-pandemic levels.
IATA’s traffic report for the first month of the year shows that global traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 67% compared to January 2022, while domestic traffic only rose 32.7% over last year’s numbers, but reached 97.4% of the January 2019 levels.
“Air travel demand is off to a very healthy start in 2023. The rapid removal of Covid-19 restrictions for Chinese domestic and international travel bodes well for the continued strong industry recovery from the pandemic throughout the year. And, importantly, we have not seen the many economic and geopolitical uncertainties of the day dampening demand for travel”, said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
1. International Passenger Markets
Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 376.3% increase in January traffic compared to January 2022, by far the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions, but off of a very low base when much of the region was still closed to travel. Capacity rose 167.1% and the load factor increased 36.6 percentage points to 83.3%, the highest among the regions.
European carriers saw a 60.6% traffic rise versus January 2022. Capacity increased 30.1%, and load factor rose 14.2 percentage points to 75.0%.
Middle Eastern airlines’ January traffic rose 97.7% compared to January a year ago. Capacity increased 45.9% and load factor climbed 20.8 percentage points to 79.2%.
North American carriers reported an 82.4% traffic increase in January versus the 2022 period. Capacity rose 37.3%, and load factor climbed 19.7 percentage points to 79.6%.
Latin American airlines had a 46.8% traffic increase compared to the same month in 2022. January capacity climbed 34.3% and load factor rose 7.1 percentage points to 82.7%, the second highest among the regions.
African airlines’ traffic rose 124.8% in January 2023 versus a year ago. January capacity was up 82.5% and load factor climbed 13.9 percentage points to 73.7%, the lowest among regions.
2. Domestic Passenger Markets
Australia’s domestic traffic rose the most, to 107.3% in January compared to a year ago and now stands at 88.8% of pre-pandemic levels.
China’s domestic RPKs rose 37.2% in January, the first month over month annual increase since August 2022 and is now at 86.3% of January 2019 levels.
Brazil remained the worst performing market, domestic air traffic only increasing by 3% compared to last year, while the year-on-year load factor was negative, at -2%
“With strong travel demand continuing through the traditionally slower winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, the stage is set for an even busier spring and summer”, said Walsh.