IATA: June Shows No Recovery for International Air Travel

The situation for international travel was nowhere it needed to be in June, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The association on Wednesday announced that passenger demand performance for June 2021 showed a very slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets.

However, IATA said demand remains significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels owing to international coronavirus travel restrictions.

“We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets. But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need to be,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh, adding that June should be the start of peak season.

However, airlines were carrying just 20 percent of 2019 levels.

“That’s not a recovery, it’s a continuing crisis caused by government inaction,” Walsh said.

According to IATA’s data:

  • Total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 60.1 percent compared to June 2019. That was a small improvement over the 62.9 percent decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019.
  • International passenger demand in June was 80.9 percent below June 2019, an improvement from the 85.4 percent decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to the slightly higher demand.
  • Total domestic demand was down 22.4 percent versus pre-crisis levels (June 2019), a slight gain over the 23.7 percent decline recorded in May 2021 versus the 2019 period. The performance across key domestic markets was mixed with Russia reporting robust expansion while China returned to negative territory.

“With each passing day the hope of seeing a significant revival in international traffic during the Northern Hemisphere summer grows fainter,” said Walsh.

IATA’s director general said that many governments are not following the data or the science to restore the basic freedom of movement.

“Despite growing numbers of vaccinated people and improved testing capacity we are very close to losing another peak summer season on the important trans-Atlantic market,” Walsh said.

He also added that the UK’s flip-flop to reinstate quarantine for vaccinated arrivals from France is the kind of policy development that destroys consumer confidence when it is most needed

“A risk-managed re-connecting of the world is what we need. Vaccinated travelers should have their freedom of movement returned. An efficient testing regime can sufficiently manage risks for those unable to be vaccinated. This is the underlying message in the latest WHO travel guidance,” IATA’s director general said.


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