The International Air Transport Association tracked a 67.2
percent decline in global air traffic in March, compared to the same month in 2019.
That’s a marked improvement over February’s 74.9 percent decline compared to February
The traffic improvement was due largely to a domestic rebound,
which bounced back to 67.7 percent of March 2019 levels, according to IATA. China’s
domestic traffic, in particular, rebounded with numbers climbing to 97.4
percent of 2019 levels. Global crossborder traffic, however, improved very
little, declining 87.8 percent globally compared to March 2019—a small serial improvement
from the 89 percent drop in February 2021.
“The positive momentum we saw in some key domestic markets
in March is an indication of the strong recovery we are anticipating in
international markets as travel restrictions are lifted, ” said IATA
director general Willie Walsh. “People want and need to fly. And we can be
optimistic that they will do so when restrictions are removed.”
Compared to March 2019, global capacity dropped 56.8
percent, and load factor dropped 19.7 percentage points to 62.3 percent. Crossborder
capacity dropped 77.4 percent, and load factor fell 37.2 percentage points to
43.7 percent. Domestic capacity fell 20.5 percent. Load factor dropped 12.5
percentage points to 71.6 percent.
Based on flight bookings, IATA expects even domestic traffic improvements
to stall in April amid surging Covid-19 infection rates in India, the Middle East
and South America, alongside an uneven global vaccine rollout. For the May to
July period, however, current bookings indicate potentially stronger traffic.