Continued strong passenger traffic demand in Apr-2023
International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced continued strong passenger traffic demand in Apr-2023. Total traffic in the month (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 45.8% compared to Apr-2022. Globally, traffic is now at 90.5% of pre-COVID levels. At 81.3%, industry load factor was only 1.8 percentage points below pre-pandemic level.
Domestic travel now fully recovered; international recovery gains
The latest IATA data shows domestic traffic for Apr-2023 rose 42.6% compared to the year-ago period and has now fully recovered, posting a 2.9% increase over the Apr-2019 results.
International traffic climbed 48.0% versus Apr-2022 with all markets recording healthy growth, with carriers in the Asia-Pacific region continuing to lead the recovery. International RPKs reached 83.6% of Apr-2019 levels.
“April continued the strong traffic trend we saw in the 2023 first quarter. The easing of inflation and rising consumer confidence in most OECD countries combined with declining jet fuel prices, suggests sustained strong air travel demand and moderating cost pressures,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia Pacific airlines lead Apr-2023 international recovery
The geographical variation of the recovery continued in Apr-2023.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 192.7% increase in Apr-2023 traffic compared to Apr-2022. Capacity climbed 145.3% and the load factor increased by 13.2 percentage points to 81.6%.
European carriers had a 22.6% traffic rise versus Apr-2022. Capacity rose 16.0%, and load factor climbed 4.5 percentage points to 83.3%, which was the second highest among the regions.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 38.0% traffic increase compared to Apr-2022. Capacity climbed 27.8% and load factor rose 5.6 percentage points to 76.2%.
North American carriers’ traffic climbed 34.8% in Apr-2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 26.5%, and load factor rose 5.2 percentage points to 83.8%, which was the highest among the regions. North American international traffic is now fully recovered, with RPKs 0.4% above Apr-2019 levels.
Latin American airlines saw a 25.8% traffic increase compared to the same month in 2022. April capacity climbed 26.4% and load factor slipped 0.4 percentage points to 83.1%.
African airlines’ traffic rose 53.5% in Apr-2023 versus a year ago, the second highest among the regions. April capacity was up 50.0% and load factor climbed 1.6 percentage points to 69.8%, lowest among the regions.
Hear the latest industry views of IATA Director General Willie Walsh
You can learn more of the recovery and other key factors impacting the global airline sector in the CAPA TV interview with IATA Director General Willie Walsh during the IATA AGM in Istanbul in Jun-2023.
Some governments appear 'more keen on punitive regulation' than facilitating hassle-free travel
Heading into the Northern Hemisphere peak travel season, aircraft and airports are already full of people eager to make use of their travel freedoms. "Airlines are working hard to accommodate them with a smooth travel experience despite continuing supply chain shortages and other operational challenges," notes Mr Walsh, however, sadly, he notes, some governments "appear more keen on punitive regulation than on doing their part to enable hassle-free travel".
One example he highlights is the Dutch Government which has introduced a "high-handed" effort to slash capacity at Schiphol airport. He also observes the focus on EU-style passenger rights regulation that "is spreading like a contagion".
However, proponents of this approach miss a key fact in his viewpoint – EU 261 has not led to a reduction in delays.
"That’s because penalising airlines raises airline costs but does not address delays caused by factors over which airlines have no control, such as inefficient air traffic management or staffing shortages at air navigation service providers," he says.