The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has revealed passenger data for June, which reveals an increase in demand that is not unexpected.
IATA data show a 76.2 percent growth over 2021 in overall passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), the industry standard. Comparatively, passenger volume was roughly 71 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
With domestic markets holding strong with an increase of 5% over June 2021 levels of international travel soared with a rise of 229.5%.
IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said: “Demand for air travel remains strong. After two years of lockdowns and border restrictions people are taking advantage of the freedom to travel wherever they can.”
Regionally speaking, passenger traffic in the “Within Europe” market increased by 7% over pre-pandemic levels. Airlines with European bases saw an increase in international RPKs of 234.4 percent year over year or around 80% of 2019 levels.
However, the recent problems hitting European airports and airlines in July may put this trend in jeopardy.
Within the data release, Mr. Walsh commented on the recent capping of passenger numbers at London Heathrow and other airports.
“By capping passenger numbers, airports are preventing airlines from benefitting from the strong demand. Heathrow Airport has tried to blame airlines for the disruption. However, Service Level Performance data for the first six months of this year show that they have failed miserably to provide basic services and missed their Passenger Security service target by a massive 14.3 points. Data for June has not yet been published but is expected to show the lowest level of service by the airport since records began.”
Airlines in North America saw the highest load factor of any continent, rising by 24.1 percentage points to 87.7 percent. With a 492 percent increase in traffic, Asia-Pacific airlines benefited from the relaxation of travel restrictions in some nations.
The load factor of airlines in the area climbed dramatically by 45.8 percentage points to 76.7, corresponding to the rise in RPKs. African airlines, in contrast, are operating at capacity levels that are similar to those of 2019. This region had the lowest load factor at 74.2 percent.
Even with the improvements in passenger demand, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, Mr. Walsh stated that there are still additional issues facing the airline business. If the European Commission went forward with its intention to reinstate the 80/20 slot use guideline, which according to IATA “requires airlines to operate at least 80 percent of any planned slot sequence,” he claimed, it would be “premature.”
Calling for the continuation of flexibility in regard to the slot rules Mr. Walsh stated: “Just look at the issues that airlines and their passengers at some hub airports are being confronted with.
These airports are unable to support their declared capacity even with the current 64% slot threshold and have extended recent passenger caps until the end of October. Flexibility is still essential in support of a successful recovery.”