MIAMI – According to the IATA, travel demand, both international and domestic, shows a strong upward trend during the month of July 2021, if compared to the same month of 2020, but remains well under the pre-pandemic traffic levels.

Continuing and extensive travel restrictions continue to impede the recovery of the international markets. Since comparison with 2020 results is rendered impossible by the impact of the COVID-19 on 2020 air traffic activities, all comparisons will be made on July 2019 during which travel demand followed a normal pattern.

Air China Airbus A350-900 B-1086. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Travel Demand

In numbers, the traffic situation for the month of July shows a total demand, measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometer (RPK), down by 53.1% when compared to July 2019. However, the result has significantly improved from the month of June which produced a minus 60% when compared to the same month in 2019.

In the international sector, demand was down by 73.6% compared to 2019 but better than in June when it showed a heavy minus 80.9% in comparison with June 2019. All regions did show an improvement (Africa data are not available) with North American airlines posting the best results in terms of RPKs decline.

The domestic sector demand was down 15.6% when compared o the pre-Covid season and July showed better numbers than June where the decline stood at minus 22.1%. Russia had the best results with RPKs exceeding those of July 2019 by 28.9%

Air France Boeing 777-300 F-GZNJ. Photo: Joao Pedro Santoro

Comments from IATA Director-General

Willie Walsh, IATA Director-General, pointed out that “July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer” with domestic traffic back to 85% of the pre-Covid levels while international travel demand has only recovered just over 25% of the 2019 levels.

The IATA Director-General indicated border control measures as the main impediment to normalized travel and again reiterated that “governments decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines. People traveled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets.”

He went on to say that “the recovery of international travel needs governments to restore freedom of travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way in reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors.”

“As the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season draws to a close it is clear that too many governments missed the opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to managing their borders. The growing number of fully vaccinated travelers and the prevalence of testing provided the chance to restore international connectivity and bring much needed relief to economies that are heavily reliant on travel and tourism.”

Walsh continues, “Instead, governments continued to behave as if it was the summer of 2020. Economies and the labor force will pay the price for decisions that were made not based on science, but on political expediency. Governments have rightly urged their populations to be vaccinated; now governments need to have confidence in the benefits of vaccinations—including the freedom to travel.”

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER N719AN – Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

July 2021 (% change vs the same month in 2019)

World share1 RPK ASK PLF
Total Market 100.0%-53.1%-45.2%-12.4%73.1%
Asia Pacific38.6%-62.7%-54.1%-15.4%67.5%
Latin America5.7%-44.5%-40.5%-5.8%79.3%
Middle East7.4%-73.2%-57.5%-30.0%51.3%
North America22.7%-28.5%-24.7%-4.5%84.1%
1% of industry RPKs in 2020  2Change in load factor vs 2019 3Load Factor Level

International Passenger Markets

  • European carriers saw their July international traffic decline 64.2% versus July 2019, significantly bettering the 77.0% decrease in June compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity dropped 53.8% and load factor fell 19.9 percentage points to 69.0%.
  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ July international traffic fell 94.2% compared to July 2019, barely improved over the 94.7% drop registered in June 2021 versus June 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures. Capacity dropped 86.0% and the load factor was down 48.2 percentage points to 34.3%, by far the lowest among regions.
  • Middle Eastern airlines posted a 74.5% demand drop in July compared to July 2019, surpassing the 79.2% decrease in June, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 59.5%, and load factor deteriorated 30.1 percentage points to 51.3%. 
  • North American carriers’ July demand fell 62.1% compared to the 2019 period, much improved on the 69.4% decline in June versus two years ago. Capacity sank 52.0%, and load factor dipped 18.6 percentage points to 69.3%.
  • Latin American airlines saw a 66.3% drop in July traffic, compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 69.8% decline in June compared to June 2019. July capacity fell 60.5% and load factor dropped 12.6 percentage points to 72.9%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month. 
Qantas Boeing 737-800 VH-VXB. Photo: Aidan Pullino/Airways

July 2021 (% change vs the same month in 2019)

Australia 0.7%-75.4%-61.0%-30.8%52.4%
Brazil 1.6%-19.6%-18.0% -1.7%83.1%
China P.R.19.9% -2.5% 6.2% -7.0%77.9%
India 2.1%-59.4%-47.1%-20.1%66.5%
Japan 1.4%-53.9%-36.1%-20.0%51.8%
Russian Fed. 3.4% 28.9% 34.8% -4.0%88.2%
US16.6% -7.7% -7.1% -0.6%88.7%
1% of industry RPKs in 2020  2Change in load factor vs 2019 3Load Factor Level
  • Australia’s domestic traffic sank further from a 51.4% decline in June versus the same month in 2019, to a 75.4% decline in July versus two years ago, amid stricter domestic lockdowns in response to a spike in the Delta variant. 
  • US domestic traffic continued to recover in July, and was down just 7.7% compared to July 2019, improved from a 14.0% decline in June versus June 2019.

Article source: IATA Press Release

Featured image: Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER VP-BPG. Photo: Kochan Kleps/Airways