AFRICAN airline travel fell by a whopping 65% during the course of 2021 when compared with the pre-pandemic era as a result of the economic effect of the coronavirus virus according to statistics just published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
IATA’s full-year global passenger traffic results for 2021 indicated that demand or revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), fell by 58.4% compared with 2019. However, this represents an improvement compared with 2020, when full year RPK was down by 65.8% when compared with 2019.
In part, the IATA report read: “African airlines’ international traffic fell 65.2% last year compared to 2019, which was the best performance among regions. Capacity dropped 56.7% and load factor sank 14.1 percentage points to 57.3%, while demand for the month of December was 60.5% below the year-ago period, a deterioration from the 56.5% decline in November, owing to the impact of government travel restrictions in response to Omicron.”
On addition, the report also noted that international passenger demand in 2021 was 75.5% below 2019 levels. Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres or declined by 65.3%, while load factor fell 24.0 percentage points to 58%.
Domestic demand in 2021 was also reported to have gone down by 28.2% compared with 2019, while capacity contracted by 19.2% and load factor dropped 9.3 percentage points to 74.3%. Total traffic for the month of December 2021was 45.1% below the same month in 2019, an improvement from the 47% contraction in November, as monthly demand continued to recover despite concerns over Omicron.
IATA director general, Willie Walsh, said: “Overall travel demand strengthened in 2021. That trend continued into December despite travel restrictions in the face of Omicron, which says a lot about the strength of passenger confidence and the desire to travel.
“The challenge for 2022 is to reinforce that confidence by normalising travel. While international travel remains far from normal in many parts of the world, there is momentum in the right direction.
“Last week, France and Switzerland announced significant easing of measures and yesterday the UK removed all testing requirements for vaccinated travellers. We hope others will follow their important lead, particularly in Asia where several key markets remain in virtual isolation.”