30 Under 30 2024

World's air travel edges back to pre-Covid levels

The International Air Transport Association said domestic travel in key markets such as China, India and the United States had led the rebound, but it expected a "normal" growth rate in 2024

Published: Feb 2, 2024 01:12:00 PM IST
Updated: Feb 2, 2024 01:20:22 PM IST

World's air travel edges back to pre-Covid levelsAir travel took rose to 94 percent of 2019 levels in 2023, according to IATA. Image: Shutterstock

Air travel took another major leap in 2023 rising to 94 percent of 2019 levels as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, the main global airline body said Wednesday.

The International Air Transport Association said domestic travel in key markets such as China, India and the United States had led the rebound but it expected a "normal" growth rate in 2024.

Based on revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), travel in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone was 98.4 percent of where it was four years earlier, Iata said.

Lockdowns and border closures starting in March 2020 devastated the airline industry, with travel for the full year falling to 34.2 percent of 2019 levels. Recovery was slow, rising to 41.6 percent in 2021 and 68.5 percent in 2022.

IATA said national travel was recovering faster than international flights.

Domestic flights reached 104 percent of their 2019 RPK, driven by an end to travel restrictions in China, where travel rose 139 percent from the previous year.

There was also strong growth in domestic travel in India and the United States.

International travel has been slower to recover, rising last year to 88.6 percent of 2019 levels.

Flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region were at 72.7 percent of 2019's numbers, while to and from Europe were 93 percent and North America at 101.4 percent.

Iata represents 320 airlines accounting for 83 percent of the world's travel. 

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