Passenger demand recovery continued in October, while cargo demand stayed strong: IATA – Times of India

MUMBAI: The ongoing recovery in passenger demand continued in October with total traffic increasing 31 % compared to October 2022, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its monthly traffic report released recently.
Globally, traffic is now at 98.2% of pre-COVID levels. “Domestic traffic for October rose 33.7% versus October 2022, driven by the triple-digit percentage growth recorded in China, and was 4.8% above the October 2019 results,” it said.International traffic climbed 29.7% compared to the same month a year ago. “All markets saw double-digit percentage gains year on year. International Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs, which is the mathematical product of number of fare-paying passengers and the distance they travelled) reached 94.4% of October 2019 levels,” it added.
“October’s strong result brings the industry ever closer to completing the post-pandemic
traffic recovery. Domestic markets remain above pre-COVID levels. International
demand is recovering, but more slowly. In particular, Asia Pacific carriers’ international
demand is 19.5% behind 2019. This could reflect the late lifting of COVID restrictions
in parts of the region as well as commercial developments and political tensions, ”
said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
As far as global cargo markets were concerned, data for October 2023 indicated the third consecutive month of stronger year-on-year demand. “Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs*), increased by 3.8% compared to October 2022. For international operations, the demand lagged slightly at 3.5%,” IATA said. “Capacity, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), was up 13.1% compared to October 2022 (11.1% for international operations). This was largely related to the growth in belly capacity. International belly capacity, for example, rose 30.5% year-on-year on the strength of passenger markets,” it added.
IATA pointed to certain factors in the operating environment. “Economic activities slowed in October. With the Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing output and export orders for major economies (excluding the US) remaining below the critical 50 mark, there is a clear marker for economic challenges ahead,” it said. Secondly, inflation in major advanced economies continued to ease from its peak in terms of Consumer Price Index (CPI), reaching between 3% and 4% for the US and for the EU respectively, in October. China’s CPI, however, indicated deflation for the second time this year, raising concerns of an economic slowdown. Also, global trade reversed its downward trajectory and stabilized in September. Although below its 2022 peak, global cross-border trade is more than 5% above pre-pandemic levels. “After a continuous 17-month decline, cargo yields ticked-up in September and continued into October with a 2.6% month-on-month gain, remaining well-above pre-pandemic levels,” IATA said.
Demand for air cargo was up 3.8% in October. “That marks three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, placing air cargo on course to end 2023 on a much stronger footing than it began the year. Recovering demand, slightly stronger yields and the uptick in trade are all good news. But with demand still 2.4% below pre-pandemic levels, and much uncertainty remaining over the trajectory of the global economy, optimism must be balanced with caution. Nonetheless, a continued strong peak year-end season will certainly help the sector to manage through whatever turns the global economy might take in 2024,” said Walsh.

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