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Khaleej Times, Tuesday, Jun 14, 2022 | Zul Qaadah 14, 1443

‏Middle East air travel posts 265% rebound in April

Emirates: Middle Eastern airlines recorded a 265 per cent jump in air travel demand year-on-year in April 2022, surpassing 78.7 per cent the growth rate in total global air travel demand.

The upswing in both regional and international travel marked the resumption of a strong recovery despite the war in Ukraine and travel restrictions in China.

The region’s April travel demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs, was also better than the 252.7 per cent increase recorded in March 2022, versus the same month in 2021, the International Air Transport Association said on Monday.

Capacity of the Middle Eastern carriers rose 101 per cent in April versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 32.2 percentage points to 71.7 per cent.

In cargo volumes, Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 11.9 per cent year-on-year decrease in April. Significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialise. This is likely due to persisting supply chain issues in Asia.

“Significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialize. This is likely due to persisting supply chain issues in Asia.”

Globally, international RPKs rose 331.9 per cent versus April 2021, an acceleration over the 289.9 per cent rise in March 2022 compared to a year ago. Several route areas are actually above pre-pandemic levels, including Europe — Central America, Middle East – North America, and North America — Central America. April 2022 international RPKs were down 43.4 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.

Domestic air travel worldwide in April was down 1.0 per cent compared to the year-ago period, a reversal from the 10.6 per cent demand rise in March. This was driven entirely by continuing strict travel restrictions in China, where domestic traffic was down 80.8 per cent year-to-year. Overall, April domestic traffic was down 25.8 per cent versus April 2019.

“With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities. April data is cause for optimism in almost all markets, except China, which continues to severely restrict travel. The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognize this success soon and take its own steps towards normality,” said Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general.

Meanwhile, Global air cargo demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 11.2 per cent compared to April 2021. Global demand is down 1.0 per cent compared to April 2019.

Capacity was 2.0 per cent below 2021 (+1.2 per cent for international operations). Both global capacity and international capacity decreased slightly in April compared to March. Asia experienced the largest falls in capacity.

Walsh said the 78th Iata Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in April late this month in Doha at which leaders of the global aviation community will gather “should send a strong signal that it is time for governments to lift any remaining restrictions and requirements and prepare for an enthusiastic response by consumers who are voting with their feet for a full restoration of their right to travel.”

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