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A Virgin Atlantic 787-9 departing London Heathrow. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

International Passenger Demand Triples in June – IATA

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has released the passenger data for June showing an unsurprising rise in passenger demand. Using the industry metric of Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) to indicate total passenger traffic IATA’s figures indicate a 76.2% increase over 2021. As a comparison passenger traffic was at approximately 71% of pre-pandemic levels.

With domestic markets holding strong with an increase of 5% over June 2021 levels international travel soared with a rise of 229.5%. IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said: “Demand for air travel remains strong. After two years of lockdowns and border restrictions people are taking advantage of the freedom to travel wherever they can.”

From a regional perspective, the ‘Within Europe’ market saw levels of passenger traffic exceed pre-pandemic levels by 7 percent. International RPKs for airlines based in Europe increased 234.4 percent year on year and sit around 80 percent of 2019 levels. However, this trend may be under threat from the recent issues affecting European airports and airlines in July.

Within the data release, Mr. Walsh commented on the recent capping of passenger numbers at London Heathrow and other airports. “By capping passenger numbers, airports are preventing airlines from benefitting from the strong demand. Heathrow Airport has tried to blame airlines for the disruption. However, Service Level Performance data for the first six months of this year show that they have failed miserably to provide basic services and missed their Passenger Security service target by a massive 14.3 points. Data for June has not yet been published but is expected to show the lowest level of service by the airport since records began.”

In North America airlines experienced the highest load factor of any region with an increase of 24.1 percentage points to 87.7 percent. Asia-Pacific airlines benefitted from the easing of travel restrictions in some countries with a 492 percent rise in traffic. Matching the surge in RPKs the load factor of airlines in the region increased significantly by 45.8 percentage points to 76.7. By comparison, African airlines are operating at close to 2019 capacity levels the region experienced the lowest load factor of 74.2 percent.

Mr. Walsh indicated that further challenges remain for the airline industry even with the increases in passenger demand, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. He said it would be “premature” if the European Commission followed through on the intent to return to the 80-20 slot use rule which IATA states ‘requires airlines to operate at least 80% of every planned slot sequence.’

Calling for the continuation of flexibility in regard to the slot rules Mr. Walsh stated: “Just look at the issues that airlines and their passengers at some hub airports are being confronted with. These airports are unable to support their declared capacity even with the current 64% slot threshold and have extended recent passenger caps until the end of October. Flexibility is still essential in support of a successful recovery.”

Author

  • John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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