Iata recorded a fresh fall in air passenger traffic in February with international demand near 89% down on the February 2019 level, compared with 86% down in January.

Overall demand including domestic traffic was down 75% in February compared with 72% in January, according to Iata which noted “performance in all regions worsened”.

Domestic demand was down 51% versus February 2019 levels compared with 48% in January “largely owing to weakness in China driven by government requests that citizens stay at home during the Lunar New Year”.

New Iata director general Willie Walsh said: “February showed no indication of a recovery in demand. In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened.”

However, he noted “an important exception” was Australia where “a relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel”. Walsh said: “This tells us people have not lost their desire to travel.”

Asia-Pacific airline traffic was down 95% on February 2019, unchanged from January, with the region suffering the steepest decline for an eighth consecutive month.

Capacity in the region was down 87.5% and the average load factor was barely 31%, also the worst by region.

European carriers saw an 89% decline in traffic versus February 2019, six percentage points worse than in January. Capacity shrank to 80.5% and the average load factor to just above 46%.

Demand in the Middle East was down 83%, only one percentage point worse than in January, with capacity at almost 69% and a load factor of 39%.

North American traffic declined to 83% of the 2019 level, down from 79% in January, with capacity at 64% and average load factor of almost 37%.

US domestic traffic saw a slight improvement from 58% down in January to 56% in February “driven by falling rates of contagion and accelerating vaccinations”.

Walsh welcomed a recent US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement that vaccinated individuals can travel, saying: “That is good news.”

He called for the development of “global standards for digital Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates” and urged governments “to accept certificates digitally”.

Walsh argued: “Paper processes will not be sustainable when travel ramps up.” He noted: “The Iata Travel Pass app was developed in anticipation of this need to manage health credentials digitally.”

The government of Singapore announced this week it will accept health certificates through the Travel Pass app.