Mideast Passenger Traffic | Soars 245.8pc In March: IATA

GENEVA: Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 245.8% in March compared to March 2021, a progress compared to the 218.2% rise in February 2022, versus the same month in 2021, as global air travel stays put on recovery mode.

 Middle Eastern March capacity rose 96.6% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 31.1 percentage points to 72.1%, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which announced passenger data for March 2022.

 Impacts from the conflict in Ukraine on air travel demand were quite limited overall while Omicron-related effects continued to be confined largely to Asian domestic markets.

 Total traffic in March 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was up 76.0% compared to March 2021. Although that was lower than the 115.9% rise in February year-over-year demand, volumes in March were the closest to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, at 41% below.

 March 2022 domestic traffic was up 11.7% compared to the year-ago period, far below the 59.4% year-over-year improvement recorded in February. This largely was a result of the Omicron-related lockdowns in China. March domestic RPKs were down 23.2% versus March 2019.

 International RPKs rose 285.3% versus March 2021, exceeding the 259.2% gain experienced in February versus the year-earlier period. Most regions boosted their performance compared to the prior month, led by carriers in Europe. March 2022 international RPKs were down 51.9% compared to the same month in 2019.

 “With barriers to travel coming down in most places, we are seeing the long-expected surge in pent-up demand finally being realised. Unfortunately, we are also seeing long delays at many airports with insufficient resources to handle the growing numbers.

 “This must be addressed urgently to avoid frustrating consumer enthusiasm for air travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

 European carriers continued to lead the recovery, with March traffic rising 425.4% versus March 2021, improved over the 384.6% increase in February 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. The impact of the war in Ukraine has been relatively limited outside of traffic to/from Russia and countries neighboring the conflict. Capacity rose 224.5%, and load factor climbed 27.8 percentage points to 72.7%.