By Chinelo Obogo
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that the recovery in air travel continued as African airlines’ traffic rose 84.5percent in October versus a year ago. October 2022 capacity was up 46.9 percent and load factor climbed 14.5 percentage points to 71.3percent, the lowest among regions.
Globally, traffic is now at 74.2percent of October 2019 levels, while omestic traffic for October 2022 slipped 0.8 percent compared to the year-ago period as stringent COVID-related travel restrictions in China dampened global figures. Total October 2022 domestic traffic was at 77.9 percent of the October 2019 level. Domestic forward bookings remain at around 70percent of pre-pandemic level.
International traffic climbed 102.4percent versus October 2021. October 2022 international RPKs reached 72.1 percent of October 2019 levels with all markets recording strong growth, led by Asia-Pacific. Forward bookings for international travel increased to around 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels, following the re-openings announced by multiple Asian economies.
“Traditionally, by October we are into the slower autumn travel season in the Northern Hemisphere, so it is highly reassuring to see demand and forward bookings continuing to be so strong. It bodes well for the coming winter season and the ongoing recovery,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia-Pacific airlines had a 440.4 percent rise in October traffic compared to October 2021, easily the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions, but off a very low 2021 base. Capacity rose 165.6percent and the load factor climbed 39.5 percentage points to 77.7percent. European carriers’ October traffic climbed 60.8percent versus October 2021. Capacity increased 34.7 percent, and load factor rose 13.8 percentage points to 84.8 percent, second highest among the regions.
Middle Eastern airlines saw a 114.7percent traffic rise in October compared to October 2021. Capacity increased 55.7 percent versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 21.8 percentage points to 79.5percent, while North American carriers reported a 106.8percent traffic rise in October versus the 2021 period. Capacity increased 54.1percent, and load factor climbed 21.4 percentage points to 83.8percent.
Latin American airlines posted an 85.3 percent traffic rise compared to the same month in 2021. October capacity climbed 66.6 percent and load factor increased 8.7 percentage points to 86.0 percent, the highest among the regions.
The aviation body also released data for October 2022 global air cargo markets showing that headwinds continue to affect air cargo demand. African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 8.3percent in October 2022 compared to October 2021. This was a significant decrease in the growth recorded the previous month (0.1%). Capacity was 7.4percent below October 2021 levels. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), fell 13.6 percent compared to October 2021 (-13.5% for international operations). Capacity was 0.6percent below October 2021. This was the first year-on-year contraction since April 2022, however, month-on-month capacity increased by 2.4 percent in preparation for the year-end peak season.
International cargo capacity grew 2.4percent compared to October 2021. The body said several factors are responsible. New export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, are shrinking in all markets except China and South Korea, which registered slightly higher new export orders in October. The US dollar has seen a sharp appreciation, with the broad real effective exchange rate in September 2022 reaching the highest level since 1986. A strong dollar affects air cargo. As many costs are denominated in dollars, the currency’s appreciation adds another layer of cost on top of high inflation and high jet fuel prices.