Global air passenger traffic in October continued its resurgence, but while international traffic gained ground, domestic demand “slipped” slightly compared with October 2021 levels, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Total October traffic, as measured in revenue passenger kilometers, increased 44.6 percent year over year. Compared with October 2019, traffic is now at 74.2 percent recovered, up from September’s 73.8 percent level. Total capacity as measured in available seat kilometers increased 23.9 percent year over year and was at 74.3 percent versus October 2019, up a bit over last month’s recovery level (74.1 percent). Load factor was 82 percent, up 11.8 percentage points from the same period last year.

“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,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement. “People are enjoying the freedom to travel, and businesses recognize the importance of air transport to their success.”

[Report continues below chart.]

The “stringent” travel policy in China continued to dampen the global figures, according to IATA. Total domestic traffic dipped 0.8 percent in October versus October 2021 and capacity contracted 7.4 percent. Domestic traffic was 77.9 percent of the October 2019 level, down from 81 percent in September. 

China’s domestic traffic was down 69.4 percent compared with October 2019 after being down 60.5 percent in September. Australia continued to lead the way in terms of year-over-year traffic growth, followed by Japan, but both were up from low October 2021 figures. The United States remained in the lead regarding recovery figures, with domestic traffic down just 0.8 percent versus October 2019 and capacity down just 4.2 percent. Brazil followed with recovery traffic down just 7.2 percent and capacity off 1.2 percent versus October 2019.

International October 2022 traffic more than doubled (102.4 percent) year over year, with capacity up 57.1 percent. Despite China’s continued weak performance, Asia-Pacific showed the largest gains (440.4 percent) following the reopenings announced by multiple Asian economies, which resulted in forward bookings for international travel to increase to around 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to IATA. Compared with October 2019 levels, international traffic was 72.1 percent recovered while capacity was 71.4 percent recovered.

“A recent survey of European business leaders doing business across borders showed that 84 percent could not imagine doing so without access to air transport networks, and 89 percent believed being close to an airport with global connections gave them a competitive advantage,” Walsh said. “Governments need to pay attention to the message that air travel is fundamental to how we live and work.”

RELATED: IATA: ‘Strong’ September Air Demand Outside China

[email protected] (Donna M. Airoldi)

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