The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the post-COVID recovery momentum continued in July for passenger markets.
Total traffic in July 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 26.2% compared to July 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 95.6% of pre-COVID levels.
Domestic traffic for July rose 21.5% versus July 2022 and was 8.3% above the July 2019 results.
International traffic climbed 29.6% compared to the same month a year ago with all markets showing robust growth. International RPKs reached 88.7% of July 2019 levels. The passenger load factor (PLF) for the industry reached 85.7% which is the highest monthly international PLF ever recorded.
“Planes were full during July as people continue to travel in ever greater numbers. Importantly, forward ticket sales indicate that traveler confidence remains high. And there is every reason to be optimistic about the continuing recovery,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 105.8% increase in July 2023 traffic compared to July 2022, continuing to lead the regions. Capacity climbed 96.2% and the load factor increased by 3.9 percentage points to 84.5%.
European carriers’ July traffic rose 13.8% versus July 2022. Capacity increased 13.6%, and load factor edged up 0.1 percentage points to 87.0%.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 22.6% increase in July traffic compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 22.1% and load factor climbed 0.3 percentage points to 82.6%.
North American carriers had a 17.7% traffic rise in July 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 17.2%, and load factor improved 0.3 percentage points to 90.3%, which was the highest among the regions for a second consecutive month.
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 25.3% compared to the same month in 2022. July capacity climbed 21.2% and load factor rose 2.9 percentage points to 89.1%.
African airlines saw a 25.6% traffic increase in July 2023 versus a year ago, the second highest percentage gain among the regions. July capacity was up 27.4% and load factor fell 1.0 percentage point to 73.9%, the lowest among the regions. For a second month in a row, Africa was the only region to see capacity growth outrun traffic demand.
China’s domestic traffic jumped 71.9% in July compared to a year ago and is now 22.5% above July 2019 levels, which was the strongest gain against pre-pandemic levels among the domestic markets.
Meanwhile, IATA released data for July 2023 global air cargo markets, showing a continuing trend of recovering growth rates since February.
Although demand is now basically flat compared to 2022, this is an improvement on recent months’ performance that is particularly significant given declines in global trade volumes and rising concerns over China’s economy.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), tracked at 0.8% below July 2022 levels (-0.4% for international operations). This was a significant improvement over the previous month’s performance (-3.4%).
Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was up 11.2% compared to July 2022 (8% for international operations). The strong uptick in ACTKs reflects the growth in belly capacity (29.3% year-on-year) due to the summer season.
Global cross-border trade contracted for the third month in a row in June, decreasing 2.5% year-over-year, reflecting the cooling demand environment and challenging macroeconomic conditions.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes increase by 2.7% in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022.
North American carriers posted the weakest performance of all regions, European carriers saw their air cargo volumes decline by 1.5% in July.
Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 1.5% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes in July 2023, Latin American carriers posted a 0.4% increase in cargo volumes compared to July 2022.
African airlines had the strongest performance in July 2023, with a 2.9% increase in cargo volumes compared to July 2023.