The International Air Transport Association says African airlines’ passenger traffic has fallen by 65% due to the increasing impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
A new report by IATA, the global airline body, said traffic in the region fell by 65 per cent in 2021.
IATA report read in part, “African airlines’ international traffic fell 65.2 per cent last year compared to 2019, which was the best performance among regions. Capacity dropped 56.7 per cent, and load factor sank 14.1 percentage points to 57.3 per cent. Demand for the month of December was 60.5 per cent below the year-ago period, a deterioration from the 56.5 per cent decline in November, owing to the impact of government travel restrictions in response to Omicron.”
The IATA full-year global passenger traffic results for 2021 indicated that demand (revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell by 58.4 per cent compared to the full year of2019.
This represents an improvement compared to 2020, when full year RPKs were down 65.8 per cent versus 2019.
The report also noted that international passenger demand in 2021 was 75.5 per cent below 2019 levels. Capacity, (measured in available seat kilometers or ASKs) declined by 65.3 per cent, while load factor fell 24.0 percentage points to 58.0 per cent
Domestic demand in 2021 was also reported to have gone down by 28.2 per cent compared to 2019. Capacity contracted by 19.2% and load factor dropped 9.3 percentage points to 74.3%.
Total traffic for the month of December 2021was 45.1 per cent below the same month in 2019, an improvement from the 47 per cent contraction in November, as monthly demand continued to recover despite concerns over Omicron.
IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, said, “Overall travel demand strengthened in 2021. That trend continued into December despite travel restrictions in the face of Omicron. That says a lot about the strength of passenger confidence and the desire to travel. The challenge for 2022 is to reinforce that confidence by normalizing travel. While international travel remains far from normal in many parts of the world, there is momentum in the right direction. Last week, France and Switzerland announced significant easing of measures. And yesterday the UK removed all testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. We hope others will follow their important lead, particularly in Asia where several key markets remain in virtual isolation.”