March 15, 2022

Air Travel Demand in Early 2022 Surged Despite Impact of Omicron Variant


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced air travel’s recovery slowed for both domestic and international in January 2022 compared to December 2021 due to travel restrictions associated with the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Total demand for air travel in January 2022 was up 82.3 percent compared to January 2021, but was down 4.9 percent compared to the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis. Domestic travel in January was up 41.5 percent, while international rose 165.6 percent.

In North America, airlines experienced a 148.8 percent traffic rise in January versus the 2021 period, while capacity rose 78 percent and load factor climbed 17 points to 59.9 percent.

“The recovery in air travel continued in January, despite hitting a speed bump called Omicron,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said. “Strengthened border controls did not stop the spread of the variant, but where population immunity was strong, the public health systems were not overwhelmed.”

“Many governments are now adjusting COVID-19 polices to align with those for other endemic viruses,” Walsh continued. “This includes lifting travel restrictions that have had such a devastating impact on lives, economies and the freedom to travel.”

Despite the strong traffic growth recorded in January 2022, passenger demand remains far below pre-COVID-19 levels. Numbers for January were down 49.6 percent compared to January 2019, with international traffic down 62.4 percent and domestic traffic off by 26.5 percent.

While the IATA figures do not include any impact from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the resulting sanctions and airspace closures are expected to have a significant impact on travel. Airspace closures have led to rerouting or cancellations of flights on some routes, mostly in the Europe-Asia and Asia-North America markets.

In addition to the disruptions, the sudden spike in fuel prices is putting pressure on airline costs.

Copyright 2022 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.travelpulse.com. By Donald Wood.

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