World air travel returns to pre-Covid levels

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In 2023, air travel made significant strides, reaching 94% of 2019 levels as it continued its recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as reported on January 31.

IATA highlighted that domestic travel in key markets like China, India, and the United States played a pivotal role in driving the rebound, anticipating a return to a “normal” growth rate in 2024.

Measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), air travel in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone reached 98.4% of its level four years earlier, according to IATA.

The airline industry had suffered severe setbacks due to lockdowns and border closures initiated in March 2020, resulting in a sharp decline in travel for the entire year, down to 34.2% of 2019 levels. The recovery was gradual, reaching 41.6% in 2021 and 68.5% in 2022.

IATA observed that national travel was rebounding more rapidly compared to international flights. Domestic flights achieved 104% of their 2019 RPK, driven by the lifting of travel restrictions in China, where travel rose by an impressive 139% from the previous year. Robust growth in domestic travel was also evident in India and the United States.

On the international front, the recovery has been slower, reaching 88.6% of 2019 levels in the past year. Flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region stood at 72.7% of 2019 numbers, while those to and from Europe were at 93%, and North America showed resilience at 101.4%.

IATA, representing 320 airlines accounting for 83% of the world’s travel, shared these insights.


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