The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals that recovery of travel was continuous in November before the emergence of omicron. International Travel markets maintained their demand with a steady increase as more markets opened. However, Domestic Travel has declined, partly due to tightened travel restrictions in China.
Total air travel demand in November 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) was 47% lower than in November 2019.
This was an improvement above the 49% shrinkage recorded in October of last year as compared to 2019. Domestic air travel declined marginally in November, following two consecutive months of increase. Domestic RPKs declined by 25% in 2019 compared to a 21% drop in 2018.
This was mostly driven by China, where traffic decreased 51% year on year after numerous cities implemented harsher travel restrictions to prevent (pre-Omicron) Covid-19 epidemics. International passenger demand in November was 61% lower than in November 2019, outperforming the 65% fall observed in October.
“The recovery in air traffic continued in November.”
“Unfortunately, governments over-reacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant at the close of the month and resorted to the tried-and-failed methods of border closures, excessive testing of travelers, and quarantine to slow the spread. Not surprisingly, international ticket sales made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, suggesting a more difficult first quarter than had been expected.”
“If the experience of the last 22 months has shown anything, it is that there is little to no correlation between the introduction of travel restrictions and preventing transmission of the virus across borders. And these measures place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods”.
“If experience is the best teacher, let us hope that governments pay more attention as we begin the New Year,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director-general.