By Chioma Iruke
Far-reaching government-imposed travel restrictions has been identified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a major factor delaying recovery in international markets.
According to a statement, the July passenger results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
The global airline body said both international and domestic travel demand showed significant momentum in July 2021 compared to June, but pointed out that demand remained far above the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
IATA which represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic, made this known in its latest passenger traffic report.
“Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets,” the airline body said in a statement, adding that total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.1 per cent compared to July 2019.
IATA said domestic traffic was back to 85 per cent of the pre-crisis levels, but pointed out that 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. People traveled 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 travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
The report gave further details of the international and domestic passenger traffic.
“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 RPKs (July traffic data from Africa was not available).
“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 RPKs up 28.9 per cent vs. July 2019,” the statement read in part.