Middle Eastern airlines register 149.7% traffic rise in September

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IATA data showed that September capacity increased 63.5% versus the year ago period. File/WAM

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) latest data, airlines in the Middle East region have posted a 149.7 per cent traffic rise in September 2022 compared to the same period last year.

IATA data showed that September capacity increased 63.5% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 27.6 percentage points to 80.0%.

The global passenger data for September 2022 shows that the recovery in air travel continues to be strong  despite global economic slowdown, according to IATA.

Total traffic in September 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 57.0% compared to September 2021. Globally, traffic is now at 73.8% of September 2019 levels.

The association noted that domestic traffic for September 2022 was up 6.9% compared to the year-ago period, while total September 2022 domestic traffic was at 81% of the September 2019 level.

International traffic climbed 122.2% versus September 2021. September 2022 international RPKs reached 69.9% of September 2019 levels. All markets reported strong growth, led by Asia-Pacific.

“Even with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, the demand for air transport continues to recover ground. The outlier is still China with its pursuit of a zero COVID strategy keeping borders largely closed and creating a demand roller coaster ride for its domestic market, with September being down 46.4% on the previous year. That is in sharp contrast to the rest of Asia-Pacific, which, despite China’s dismal performance, posted a 464.8% increase for international traffic compared to the year-ago period,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

 Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 464.8% rise in September traffic compared to September 2021, the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 165.3% and the load factor was up 41.5 percentage points to 78.3%.

European carriers September traffic climbed 78.3% versus September 2021. Capacity increased 43.8%, and load factor moved up 16.3 percentage points to 84.1%, second highest among the regions.

North American carriers had a 128.9% traffic rise in September versus the 2021 period. Capacity increased 63.0%, and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 85.4%, which was the highest among the regions for a fourth consecutive month.

Latin American airlines’ September traffic rose 99.4% compared to the same month in 2021. September capacity climbed 73.7% and load factor increased 10.8 percentage points to 83.5%.

African airlines saw a 90.5% rise in September RPKs versus a year ago. September 2022 capacity was up 47.2% and load factor climbed 16.7 percentage points to 73.6%, the lowest among regions.

 Air cargo: IATA released data for September 2022 global air cargo markets showed that air cargo demand softened.

 Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 10.6% compared to September 2021 (-10.6% also for international operations), but continued to track at near pre-pandemic levels (-3.6%).

Capacity was 2.4% above September 2021 (+5.0% for international operations) but still 7.4% below September 2019 levels (-8.1% for international operations).

“While air cargo’s activity continues to track near to 2019 levels, volumes remain below 2021’s exceptional performance as the industry faces some headwinds. At the consumer level, with travel restrictions lifting post-pandemic, people are likely to spend more on vacation travel and less on e-commerce. And at the macro-level, increasing recession warnings are likely to have a negative impact on the global flows of goods and services, balanced slightly by a stabilization of oil prices. Against this backdrop, air cargo is bearing up well. And a strategic slow-down in capacity growth from 6.3% in August to 2.4% in September demonstrates the flexibility the industry has in adjusting to economic developments,” said Willie Walsh.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 10.7% in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to August (-8.3%). Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, labor shortages, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region increased by 2.8% compared to 2021.

North American carriers posted a 6.0% decrease in cargo volumes in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to August (3.4%). Capacity was up 4.6% compared to September 2021.

European carriers saw a 15.6% decrease in cargo volumes in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was on a par with August’s performance (-15.1%). This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. Labor shortages and high inflation levels, most notably in Turkey, also affected volumes. Capacity increased 0.2% in September 2022 compared to September 2021. Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.8% year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in September 2022.

This was the worst performance of all regions and a significant decline compared to the previous month (-11.3%). Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity was down 2.8% compared to September 2021.

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