IATA: Pax demand recovery continued in December; Air cargo closes 2022 near pre-pandemic levels

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OLIVER WYMAN ADDS TO TRANSPORTATION TEAM IN APAC
(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

SeoulThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel continued in December 2022 and for the full year. Total traffic in 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose 64.4 percent compared to 2021. Globally, full year 2022 traffic was at 68.5 percent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels. December 2022 total traffic rose 39.7 percent compared to December 2021 and reached 76.9 percent of the December 2019 level.

International traffic in 2022 climbed 152.7 percent versus 2021 and reached 62.2 percent of 2019 levels. December 2022 international traffic climbed 80.2 percent over December 2021, reaching 75.1 percent of the level in December 2019. Domestic traffic for 2022 rose 10.9 percent compared to the prior year. The year 2022 domestic traffic was at 79.6 percent of the full year 2019 level. December 2022 domestic traffic was up 2.6 percent over the year earlier period and was at 79.9 percent of December 2019 traffic.

Download the IATA December 2022 passenger market analysis here.

“The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year, despite some governments’ over-reactions to China’s re-opening,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. Let us hope that 2022 becomes known as the year in which governments locked away forever the regulatory shackles that kept their citizens earthbound for so long. It is vital that governments learn the lesson that travel restrictions and border closures have little positive impact in terms of slowing the spread of infectious diseases in our globally inter-connected world. However, they have an enormous negative impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, as well as on the global economy that depends on the unfettered movement of people and goods,” said Walsh.

International Passenger Markets

  • Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 363.3 percent rise in full year international 2022 traffic compared to 2021, maintaining the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 129.9 percent and the load factor climbed 37.3 percentage points to 74 percent. December 2022 traffic rose 302.7 percent compared to December 2021. 
  • European carriers’ full year traffic climbed 132.2 percent versus 2021. Capacity increased 84 percent, and load factor rose 16.7 percentage points to 80.6 percent. For December, demand climbed 46.5 percent compared to the same month in 2021.
  • Middle Eastern airlines saw a 157.4 percent traffic rise in 2022 compared to 2021. Capacity increased 73.8 percent and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 75.8 percent. December demand climbed 69.8 percent compared to the same month in 2021.
  • North American carriers reported a 130.2 percent annual traffic rise in 2022 compared to 2021. Capacity increased 71.3 percent, and load factor climbed 20.7 percentage points to 80.8 percent. December 2022 traffic rose 61.3 percent compared to the year-ago period.
  • Latin American airlines posted a 119.2 percent traffic rise in 2022 over full year 2021. Annual capacity climbed 93.3 percent and load factor increased 9.7 percentage points to 82.2 percent, the highest among the regions. December demand climbed 37 percent  compared to December 2021.
  • African airlines’ annual traffic rose 89.2 percent in 2022 versus the prior year. Full year 2022 capacity was up 51 percent and load factor climbed 14.5 percentage points to 71.7 percent, the lowest among regions. December 2022 traffic for African airlines rose 118.8 percent over the year-earlier period.

Domestic Passenger Markets

  • India’s full year domestic traffic rose 48.8 percent versus 2021, reaching 85.7 percent of the 2019 level.
  • Japan’s domestic RPKs rose 75.9 percent in 2022 and were at 74.1 percent of the 2019 level.

Air cargo closes 2022 near pre-pandemic levels

Cargo delivers medical supplies for India’s healthcare emergency_ENG
(PHOTO: Cathay Pacific Cargo)

IATA also released data for global air freight markets showing that 2022 full-year demand for air cargo took a significant step back from 2021 levels but was close to 2019 performance. Global full-year demand in 2022, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was down 8 percent compared to 2021 (-8.2 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019, it was down 1.6 percent (both global and international).

Download the IATA December 2022 air cargo market analysis here.

Capacity in 2022, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), was 3 percent above 2021 (+4.5 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels, capacity declined by 8.2 percent (-9 percent for international operations). December saw a softening in performance: global demand was 15.3 percent below 2021 levels (-15.8 percent for international operations). Monthly cargo demand tracked below 2021 levels from March 2022. Global capacity was 2.2 percent below 2021 levels (‑0.5 percent for international operations). This was the 10th consecutive monthly contraction compared to 2021 performance.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh at the 2021 annual general meeting in Boston. (PHOTO: IATA)

The year 2022 ended with mixed signals. Global new export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, have stayed at the same level since October. For major economies, new export orders are shrinking except in Germany, the US, and Japan, where they grew. Global goods trade decreased by 1.5 percent in November, down from a 3.4 percent increase in October. The Consumer Price Index for G7 countries indicated inflation tracking at 6.8 percent for December. The 0.6 percentage point drop compared to November (7.4 percent) was the largest over the course of year. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced to 12.7 percent in October, its lowest level so far in 2022.

“In the face of significant political and economic uncertainties, air cargo performance declined compared to the extraordinary levels of 2021. That brought air cargo demand to1.6 percent below 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels. The continuing measures by key governments to fight inflation by cooling economies are expected to result in a further decline in cargo volumes in 2023 to -5.6 percent compared to 2019. It will, however, take time for these measures to bite into cargo rates. So, the good news for air cargo is that average yields and total revenue for 2023 should remain well above what they were pre-pandemic. That should provide some respite in what is likely to be a challenging trading environment in the year ahead,” said IATA’s Walsh.

2022 Regional Performance

  • Asia-Pacific airlines posted an 8.8% decrease in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 (-7.4 percent for international operations) and a capacity increase of 0.5 percent (+5.8 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 7.8 percent below (-3.9 percent for international operations) and capacity was down 17.2 percent (-12.2 percent for international operations). In December, Asia-Pacific airlines recorded the worst performance of all regions, posting a 21.2 percent decrease in demand (-20.4 percent for international operations) compared to 2021. Capacity fell 3.9 percent (-1.4 percent for international operations) during the same period. Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity and disruptions in supply chains due to China’s rising COVID cases.
  • North American carriers reported a 5.1 percent decrease in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 (-6.3 percent for international operations) and a capacity increase of 4.2 percent (+4.9 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 13.7 percent above (+12.7 percent for international operations) and capacity was up 8.2 percent (5.1 percent for international operations). In December, airlines in the region reported an 8.5 percent decrease in demand for both global and international operations, compared to 2021. Capacity fell 2.9 percent (+1.8 percent for international operations) during the same period.
  • European carriers posted the worst year-on-year performance of all regions, with an 11.5 percent decrease in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 (-11.8 percent for international operations). During the same period, airlines posted a capacity increase of 0.5 percent for both global and international operations. Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 8.7 percent below (-9.1 percent for international operations) and capacity was down 16.5 percent (-17.3 percent for international operations). In December, airlines in the region posted a 17.4 percent decrease in demand (-17.9 percent for international operations) compared to 2021. Capacity fell 7 percent (-7.4 percent for international operations) during the same period. Airlines in the region continue to be most affected by the war in Ukraine.
  • Middle Eastern carriers reported a decrease of 10.7 percent for global and international demand in 2022 compared to 2021 and an increase in capacity of 4.3 percent (+4.5 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 1.6 percent below for global and international operations and capacity was down 6.3 percent (-6.1 percent for international operations). In December airlines in the region posted a 14.4 percent decrease in demand for both global and international operations compared to 2021. Capacity increased 2.8 percent (+3 percent for international operations) during the same period.
  • Latin American carriers posted the strongest year-on-year performance of all regions, with an 13.1 percent increase in demand in 2022 compared to 2021 (+15 percent for international operations). During the same period, airlines posted a capacity increase of 27.1 percent (+27.8 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 4.3 percent below (-2.6 percent for international operations) and capacity was down 14.3 percent (-10.8 percent for international operations). In December airlines in the region posted stagnant growth in demand (+2.3 percent for international operations) compared to 2021. Capacity grew 27.6 percent (+32.7 percent for international operations) during the same period. 
  • African airlines reported a decrease in demand of 1.4 percent for global and international demand in 2022 compared to 2021 and an increase in capacity of 0.3 percent (-0.2 percent for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID levels), demand was 8.3 percent above (+9.4 percent for international operations) and capacity was down 15.3 percent (-14.2 percent for international operations). In December, airlines in the region posted a 10 percent decrease in demand for both global and international operations compared to 2021. Capacity grew 1.3 percent (+0.2 percent for international operations) during the same period.


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