Domestic markets developments slow air travel in August

The spread of the COVID-19 delta variant has led to a modest deterioration in air travel in August this year, an air passenger market analysis released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed.

According to the study, industry-wide Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) plummeted by 56.0 per cent during the period under review.

“This was entirely driven by domestic markets developments,” IATA, which is the trade association for the world’s airlines, said.

 The analysis, however, indicated that there was a broad-based improvement in international markets in August, led by growing vaccination rates and less stringent international travel restrictions in some regions.

“Looking ahead, travel restrictions may continue to ease, but there are some risks, notably from low vaccination in Africa and slowing economic activity. Bookings for September point to deterioration in international recovery, and to a broadly flat domestic RPKs”, it said.

The analysis said the deterioration in particular domestic China was also reflected in Seasonally Adjusted (SA) RPKs, which fell 7.1 per cent month-on-month in August, the first decline since January 2021.

It said SA RPKs remained around 60 per cent below pre-crisis levels, highlighting that the recovery had a long way to go.

The fall in industry-wide RPKs, it said was entirely driven by domestic markets, as international air travel performed well in August while China was the main culprit, as it accounted for 19.9 per cent of total global RPKs in 2020 traffic in several other large domestic markets.

“Overall, domestic RPKs fell by 32.2 per cent in August 2021 versus the same month in 2019, after a 16.1 per cent decline in July.

Particularly on Africa, IATA said International RPKs of African carriers fell by 58.5 per cent in August.

“This is an improvement from the 60.4 per cent fall in July, but the share of fully vaccinated people remains below 5 per cent of the population, meaning that gains in traffic are at risk,” it said.

IATA said the growing COVID-19 cases were also the cause behind deteriorations in some other key domestic markets.

Looking ahead, IATA said, there were signs the recovery in air travel might continue in view of the increasing vaccination rates across the world.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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