Middle Eastern travel demand rising; Still lower than Pre-COVID: IATA

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Air Travel
Image Courtesy: UNWTO Twitter page

Global trade organization of airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed that figures posted by Middle Eastern airlines on passenger demand were significantly lower, compared to 2019 levels.

IATA revealed a 74.5 percent decrease in July 2021 passenger demand numbers compared to the same time period in 2019.

The international organization stated that there was a decline of 59.5 percent in capacity and the load factor depreciated 30.1 percent to 51.3 percent. While both international and domestic travel demand showed notable growth in July compared to June, passenger demand continued to be below pre-pandemic levels, IATA remarked.

While July 2021 recorded a “significant improvement” in comparison to June 2021 for total air travel demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), it was still 53.1 percent lower than the numbers posted in July 2019. Meanwhile, international passenger demand in July was 73.6 percent below July 2019.

Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh
Director General

“July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Domestic traffic was back to 85% of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes. The problem is border control measures. Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines.”

“People traveled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets. A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors, Mr. Walsh added.

The IATA Director-General further stated that “As the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season draws to a close it is clear that too many governments missed the opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to managing their borders. The growing number of fully vaccinated travelers and the prevalence of testing provided the chance to restore international connectivity and bring much-needed relief to economies that are heavily reliant on travel and tourism.”

“Instead, governments continued to behave as if it was the summer of 2020. Economies and the labor force will pay the price for decisions that were made not based on science, but on political expediency. Governments have rightly urged their populations to be vaccinated; now governments need to have confidence in the benefits of vaccinations —including the freedom to travel,” Mr. Walsh remarked.

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