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In brief

  L      2022 

December 2021 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis 
Published January 25, 2022. IATA Economic Reports.

Improvement in air travel


  • The air-travel recovery continued into the year-end despite Omicron disruptions, with industry-wide revenue passenger-kilometers (RPKs) down 45.1% in December 2021 versus December 2019. In full 2021, global RPKs rose to 41.6% of 2019 levels compared with 34.2% in 2020 as more markets reopened with vaccination progress.
  • Global passenger seat capacity (ASKs) recovered to 51.2% of pre-pandemic levels in 2021 and the global passenger load factor was at 67.2% – down 15.4 percentage points compared with 2019.
  • Ticket sales for future travel deteriorated since November across domestic and international routes. This suggests that the traditionally less busy January-February period will be weaker than in the absence of Omicron.

African airlines passenger numbers weaken amid travel bans
Despite the Omicron outbreak, international RPK rose to 41.6% of 2019 levels in December thanks to resilient trips to visit friends and relatives. Africa was the only region that weakened due to travel bans implemented against southern Africa aimed to limit the Omicron spread.

Air travel resilient to Omicron in December

The global air-travel recovery continued into the yearend as strong demand over the holiday season compensated for the Omicron related disruptions. The industry-wide revenue passenger-kilometers (RPKs) fell by 45.1% in December 2021 versus December 2019, after a 47.0% decline in November 2021 versus November 2019.
    The December improvement was broad-based across the majority of international and key domestic markets. However, the results would have in all probability been stronger in the absence of the Omicron outbreak. At the regional level, North and Latin American airlines ended the year as the best performers with RPKs 23% below December 2019. 
    2021 remained challenging for the airline industry though it showed considerable improvement over 2020. Progress on vaccination and improved testing efficiency helped lift domestic lockdowns and reopen some international markets. This pushed global RPKs to 41.6% of 2019 levels in 2021, versus 34.2% in 2020...Download the full report.