IATA announced a moderate rebound in air travel in September 2021 compared with August’s performance. This was driven by recovery in domestic markets, in particular China, where some travel curbs were lifted following the COVID-19 outbreaks in August. International demand, meanwhile, slipped slightly compared with the previous month.

  • Total demand for air travel in September 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.4% compared with September 2019. This marked an uptick from August, when demand was 56.0% below August 2019 levels.
  • Domestic markets were down 24.3% compared with September 2019, a significant improvement from August 2021, when traffic was down 32.6% versus two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, although the latter remained in solid growth territory compared with 2019. 
  • International passenger demand in September was 69.2% below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7% decline recorded in August. 


“September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid continuing border closures and quarantine mandates. The recent US policy change to reopen travel from 33 markets for fully vaccinated foreigners from 8 November is a welcome, if long overdue, development. Along with recent re-openings in other key markets like Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore this should give a boost to the large-scale restoration of the freedom to travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

“Each re-opening announcement seems to come with similar but different rules,” he continued. “We cannot let the recovery get bogged down in complication. The ICAO High Level Conference on COVID-19 agreed that harmonization should be a priority. The G20 declared a commitment to take action to support a recovery with seamless travel, sustainability, and digitalization. Now governments must put actions behind these words to realize simple and effective measures. People, jobs, businesses and economies are counting on real progress.”. 

 

Credit | B.Zhou / Shutterstock
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