India’s Domestic Traffic Was 71% lower In May 2021: IATA

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A representational picture of aircraft at Bengaluru airport. Source: teamvtaviation/Instagram

India’s domestic traffic was 71 percent lower in May this year compared to the corresponding period in 2019 amid the emergence of more contagious Delta variant of coronavirus, global airlines body IATA said on Wednesday.

Passenger traffic is measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), which is calculated by multiplying the number of seats that were filled with passengers to the distance travelled by the flight.

Domestic Traffic Fall

“India’s domestic traffic fell 71.0% in May compared to May 2019 amid the emergence of the new and more contagious ‘Delta’ variant. This compared to a 42% decline registered in April versus the same month two years ago,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement.

The IATA, which has around 290 airlines as its members, said the domestic passenger traffic across the world in May 2021 was 23.9 percent less than the figures of May 2019.

The airlines body said the global international traffic was 85.1 percent less in May this year compared to the corresponding month in 2019.

Scheduled domestic passenger traffic was suspended in India for about two months between March 25 and May 24 last year due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Since May 2020, the domestic traffic had been on a path of recovery when the second wave of the pandemic hit India during April and May this year.

India and its aviation sector was badly hit again during the second COVID wave. Currently, the Indian carriers are operating around 1,400 daily domestic flights.

  • Total demand for air travel in May 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 62.7% compared to May 2019. That was a gain over the 65.2% decline recorded in April 2021 versus April 2019.
  • International passenger demand in May was 85.1% below May 2019, a small step-up from the 87.2% decline recorded in April 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to this modest improvement.
  • Total domestic demand was down 23.9% versus pre-crisis levels (May 2019), slightly improved over April 2021, when domestic traffic was down 25.5% versus the 2019 period. China and Russia traffic continue to be in in positive growth territory compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, while India and Japan saw significant deterioration amid new variants and outbreaks.

“We are starting to see positive developments, with some international markets opening to vaccinated travelers. The Northern Hemisphere summer travel season is now fully arrived. And it is disappointing that more governments are not moving more rapidly to use data to drive border opening strategies that would help revive tourism jobs and reunite families,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

International Passenger Markets

European carriers’ May international traffic declined 84.7% versus May 2019, improved from the 87.7% decrease in April compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity dropped 75.7% and load factor fell 31.3 percentage points to 52.9%.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their May international traffic fall 94.3% compared to May 2019, fractionally worse than the 94.2% drop registered in April 2021 versus April 2019. The region experienced the steepest traffic declines for a tenth consecutive month. Capacity was down 86.4% and the load factor sank 45.5 percentage points to 33.2%, the lowest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines experienced an 81.3% demand drop in May compared to May 2019, slightly bettering the 82.9% decrease in April, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 63.7%, and load factor fell 35.3 percentage points to 37.7%.

North American carriers’ May demand fell 74.4% compared to the 2019 period, an improvement over the 77.6% decline in April versus two years ago. Capacity sagged 58.5%, and load factor dropped 32.2 percentage points to 51.7%.

Latin American airlines saw a 75.1% demand drop in May, compared to the same month in 2019, notably improved over the 80.9% decline in April compared to April 2019. May capacity was down 69.9% and load factor decreased 14.6 percentage points to 69.5%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the eighth consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic fell 71.4% in May versus May two years ago, a gain from the 75.6% decline in April compared to April 2019. May capacity declined 61.8% versus May 2019, and load factor dropped 16.9 percentage points to 50.2%.

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