Air Travel Reaches 99% of 2019 Levels as Recovery Continues

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for “November 2023 air travel performance indicating that air travel demand topped 99% of 2019 levels.”

According to the data, “African airlines had a 22.1% rise in November RPKs versus a year ago. November 2023 capacity was up 29.6% and load factor fell 4.3 percentage points to 69.7%, the lowest among regions.”

The data says that; “Total traffic in November 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 29.7% compared to November 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 99.1% of November 2019 levels.”

IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh stated; “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% below pre-pandemic levels but that gap is rapidly closing. And domestic markets have been above their pre-pandemic levels continuously since April.”

Air Passenger Market in Detail

NOVEMBER 2023 (% YEAR-ON-YEAR) WORLD SHARE​1 RPK ASK PLF(%-PT)​2 PLF(LEVEL)​3
Total Market 100% 29.7% 28.6% 0.7% 81.8%
Africa 2.1% 20.3% 27.1% -4.0% 70.4%
Asia Pacific 22.1% 80.1% 71.7% 3.8% 81.4%
Europe 30.8% 13.6% 13.5% 0.1% 83.7%
Latin America 6.4% 12.0% 9.1% 2.2% 84.4%
Middle East 9.8% 18.7% 18.4% 0.2% 77.7%
North America 28.8% 10.2% 11.3% -0.8% 82.7%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) Year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

Domestic Passenger Markets

NOVEMBER 2023 (% YEAR-ON-YEAR) WORLD SHARE​1 RPK ASK PLF(%-PT)​2 PLF(LEVEL)​3
Domestic 41.9% 34.8% 32.5% 1.4% 82.4%
Domestic Australia 1.0% 13.2% 7.6% 4.3% 85.3%
Domestic Brazil 1.5% 2.3% -0.1% 1.9% 82.7%
Domestic China P.R. 6.4% 272.0% 212.4% 12.4% 77.4%
Domestic India 2.0% 10.9% 12.9% -1.5% 86.2%
Domestic Japan 1.2% 5.9% 0.4% 4.2% 80.0%
Domestic US 19.2% 8.9% 9.8% -0.7% 83.7%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

Air Passenger Market Overview – November 2023

NOVEMBER 2023 (% CH VS SAME MONTH IN 2019) WORLD SHARE1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market 100.0% -0.9% -1.8% 0.8% 81.8%
International 58.1% -5.5% -6.8% 1.1% 81.3%
Domestic 41.9% 6.7% 6.4% 0.2% 82.4%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2022    2) year-on-year change in load factor    3) Load Factor Level

The Bottom Line

“Aviation’s rapid recovery from COVID demonstrates just how important flying is to people and to businesses. In parallel to aviation’s recovery, governments recognized the urgency of transitioning from jet fuel to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for aviation’s decarbonization. The Third Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in November saw governments agree that we should see 5% carbon savings by 2030 from SAF. This was followed up at COP28 in December where governments agreed that we need a broad transition from fossil fuels to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  Airlines don’t need convincing. They agreed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and every drop of SAF ever made in that effort has been bought and used. There simply is not enough SAF being produced. So we look to 2024 to be the year when governments follow-up on their own declarations and finally deliver comprehensive policy measures to incentivize the rapid scaling-up of SAF production,” said Walsh.

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