KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Total air traffic in May 2022, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), was up 83.1 per cent in May 2022 compared to a year earlier, largely driven by the strong recovery in international traffic, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In a statement today, it said total RPKs in May 2022 reached 68.7 per cent of May 2019 levels, which was the best performance against pre-COVID-19 travel so far this year. 

IATA director-general Willie Walsh said travel recovery continues to gather momentum as people need to travel and do so when governments remove COVID-19 restrictions. 

“Many major international route areas, including within Europe, and the Middle East-North America routes, are already exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels. 

“Completely removing all COVID-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week,” he said. 

Walsh noted that the major exception to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a dramatic 73.2 per cent fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year. 

“Its continuing zero-COVID policy is out-of-step with the rest of the world and it shows in the dramatically slower recovery of China-related travel,” he added.

Walsh said in the longer term, governments must improve their understanding of how aviation operates and work more closely with airports and airlines. 

“Having created so much uncertainty with knee-jerk COVID-19 policy flip-flops and avoiding most opportunities to work in unison based on global standards, their actions did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity. 

“It is unacceptable that the industry is now facing a potential punitive regulatory deluge as several governments fill their post-COVID-19 regulatory calendars,” said Walsh.

In a separate statement, IATA said the easing of Omicron restrictions in China has helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed to a performance improvement for the global air cargo market in May.

It said global demand in May 2022, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was 8.3 per cent below May 2021 levels (-8.1 per cent for international operations), an improvement on the year-on-year decline of 9.1 per cent seen in April.

IATA said capacity in the month under review was 2.7 per cent above May 2021 (+5.7 per cent for international operations).

“This more than offset the 0.7 per cent year-on-year drop in April. Capacity expanded in all regions with Asia-Pacific experiencing the largest growth,” it added.


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