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

Air Traffic Numbers Are Up Globally to Start 2023

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that demand for commercial airline travel continued to recover in January 2023.

According to IATA data, total traffic in January measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 67 percent compared to 2022, while global traffic reached 84.2 percent of January 2019 levels.


Domestic traffic for January rose 32.7 percent compared to the year-ago period, thanks in part to China lifting COVID-related restrictions. Total domestic traffic was at 97.4 percent of the January 2019 level.

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As for international traffic, totals climbed 104 percent and RPKs reached 77 percent of pre-pandemic numbers, with all markets recording strong growth.

“Air travel demand is off to a very healthy start in 2023,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said. “The rapid removal of COVID-19 restrictions for Chinese domestic and international travel bodes well for the continued strong industry recovery from the pandemic throughout the year.”

“And, importantly, we have not seen the many economic and geopolitical uncertainties of the day dampening demand for travel,” Walsh continued.

Airlines in North American reported an 82.4 percent traffic increase in January versus the 2022 period, with capacity rising 37.3 percent and load factor climbing 19.7 percentage points to 79.6 percent.

Asia-Pacific carriers posted a 376.3 percent increase compared to the previous year, while capacity rose 167.1 percent and the load factor increased 36.6 percentage points to 83.3 percent.

European airlines also saw a 60.6 percent traffic increase, while Latin American carriers saw a 46.8 percent traffic improvement.

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