September Passenger Demand Stays Strong

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Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger data for September 2022 showing that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong.

  • Total traffic in September 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 57.0% compared to September 2021. Globally, traffic is now at 73.8% of September 2019 levels.
  • Domestic traffic for September 2022 was up 6.9% compared to the year-ago period. Total September 2022 domestic traffic was at 81% of the September 2019 level.
  • International traffic climbed 122.2% versus September 2021. September 2022 international RPKs reached 69.9% of September 2019 levels. All markets reported strong growth, led by Asia-Pacific.

“Even with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, the demand for air transport continues to recover ground. The outlier is still China with its pursuit of a zero COVID strategy keeping borders largely closed and creating a demand roller coaster ride for its domestic market, with September being down 46.4% on the previous year. That is in sharp contrast to the rest of Asia-Pacific, which, despite China’s dismal performance, posted a 464.8% increase for international traffic compared to the year-ago period,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

International Passenger Markets

Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 464.8% rise in September traffic compared to September 2021, the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 165.3% and the load factor was up 41.5 percentage points to 78.3%.

European carriers September traffic climbed 78.3% versus September 2021. Capacity increased 43.8%, and load factor moved up 16.3 percentage points to 84.1%, second highest among the regions.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 149.7% traffic rise in September compared to September 2021. September capacity increased 63.5% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 27.6 percentage points to 80.0%.

North American carriers had a 128.9% traffic rise in September versus the 2021 period. Capacity increased 63.0%, and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 85.4%, which was the highest among the regions for a fourth consecutive month.

Latin American airlines’ September traffic rose 99.4% compared to the same month in 2021. September capacity climbed 73.7% and load factor increased 10.8 percentage points to 83.5%.

African airlines saw a 90.5% rise in September RPKs versus a year ago. September 2022 capacity was up 47.2% and load factor climbed 16.7 percentage points to 73.6%, the lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Japan’s domestic RPKs rose 127.9% in September and are now at nearly 75.6% of 2019 levels.

US domestic traffic climbed 16.8% in September compared to September 2021, pushing it to 0.4% above the September 2019 level. The 85.4% load factor was the highest among the domestic markets.

The Bottom Line

“Strong demand is helping the industry cope with sky high fuel prices. To support that demand in the long-term, we need to pay attention to what travelers are telling us. After nearly three years of pandemic travel complexity, IATA’s 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) shows that travelers want simplification and convenience. That’s an important message for airlines but also for airports and governments. They own many of the facilitation processes that let passengers down at some key airports over this year’s northern summer travel season. According to the GPS, a majority of passengers want to use biometric data rather than passports for border processes. And 93% of passengers are interested in trusted traveler programs to expedite security screening. Modernizing the facilitation experience will not only help alleviate the choke points, it will create a better experience for all,” said Walsh.

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