Both international and domestic air travel demand showed significant momentum in July compared to June but demand remained far below pre-pandemic levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets. Total demand for air travel in July measured in revenue passenger kilometres was down 53.1 per cent compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60 per cent below June 2019 levels.
International passenger demand in July was 73.6 per cent below July 2019, bettering the 80.9 per cent decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago.
All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international revenue passenger kilometres.
Total domestic demand was down 15.6 per cent versus pre-crisis levels (July 2019) compared to the 22.1 per cent decline recorded in June over June 2019. Russia posted the best result for another month with revenue passenger kilometres up 28.9 per cent versus July 2019.
IATA's Director General Willie Walsh said July results reflect people's eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Domestic traffic was back to 85 per cent of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes.
"The problem is border control measures. Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines," he said.
"People travelled where they could and that was primarily in domestic markets. A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travellers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors," said Walsh.
Asia Pacific airlines' July international traffic fell 94.2 per cent compared to July 2019, barely improved over the 94.7 per cent drop registered in June 2021 versus June 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures.
Capacity dropped 86 per cent and the load factor was down 48.2 percentage points to 34.3 per cent, by far the lowest among regions.