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APAC leads international air travel revival with global pax traffic now at 99%: IATA

Global passenger numbers are closing in on pre-COVID levels with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting air travel demand topped 99.1 per cent of 2019 levels in November 2023. The APAC region had the strongest leap – up 68.8 per cent year on year.

Global passenger numbers are closing in on pre-COVID levels with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reporting air travel demand topped 99.1 per cent of 2019 levels in November 2023. The APAC region had the strongest leap – up 68.8 per cent year on year.

Demonstrating global economic pressures are no deterrent to travel, IATA found international traffic rose 26.4 per cent in November 2023 while domestic travel was up 34.8 per cent compared to November 2022.

China showed the strongest year-on-year domestic growth at 272 per cent while US domestic travel also had a bump up 9.1 per cent on 2019 levels, thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday period in November.

IATA measures actual passenger traffic in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs. It found all market segments saw a sudden rise in bookings and increasing demand for air travel as the year closed.

Of the buoyant results, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said: “We are moving ever closer to surpassing the 2019 peak year for air travel.

“Economic headwinds are not deterring people from taking to the skies. International travel remains 5.5 per cent below pre-pandemic levels but that gap is rapidly closing. And domestic markets have been above their pre-pandemic levels continuously since April,” he added.

Asia-Pacific air travel gains

Qantas and Jetstar planes
Qantas and Jetstar aircraft.

In our region, Asia-Pacific airlines had a 63.8% rise in November 2023, recording the largest year-on-year rate worldwide.

Passenger capacity also rose by more than half (58%) along with the load factor, now reaching 82.6 per cent.

For domestic travel, Australia was up 13.2 per cent in RPKs compared to November 2022 and a neat increase on the 7.2 per cent lift in capacity recorded in September 2023.

Australian airports also reported record international passenger traffic days over the Christmas and New Year period with Sydney Airport within one percentage point of pre-pandemic levels in November 2023.

Read the full report here.