Air travel ‘showing early signs of recovery’

Global air travel demand is showing slow signs of recovery after “hitting bottom” in April, new Iata data reveals,

Daily flight totals rose 30% between the low point on April 21 and May 27.

But this was from a rate of decline never seen since Iata traffic records started in 1990.

Passenger demand in April plunged 94.3% over the same month last year as Covid-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down all air travel.

The rebound was primarily in domestic operations and from a very low base.

Iata said: “While this uptick is not significant to the global dimension of the air transport industry, it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence.

“In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of re-establishing connectivity.”

Director general and chief executve Alexandre de Juniac said: “April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped.

“But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US.

“These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still”

But he added: “The initial green shoots will take time – possibly years – to mature.”

Governments in 75% of the markets tracked by Iata completely banned entry in April, while an additional 19% had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals.

The initial flight increases have been concentrated in domestic markets.

Data from late May show that flight levels in Korea, China and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22%-28% lower than a year earlier.

Searches for air travel on Google also were up 25% by the end of May compared to the April low, although that is a rise from a very low base and still 60% lower than at the start of the year.

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