IATA: March Domestic Demand Recorded Upsurge

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that passenger traffic rose in March 2021 compared with February 2021.

However, total demand for air travel in March 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 67.2 per cent, compared with March 2019. That was an improvement over the 74.9 per cent decline recorded in February 2021 versus February 2019.

The global body explained that the comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results were distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19.

The better performance was driven by gains in domestic markets, particularly China. International traffic remained largely restricted.
International passenger demand in March was 87.8 per cent below March 2019, a slight improvement from the 89 per cent decline recorded in February 2021 versus two years ago.

Also, total domestic demand was down 32.3 per cent versus pre-crisis levels (March 2019) improved over February 2021, while domestic traffic was down 51.2 per cent versus the 2019 period.
All markets except Brazil and India showed improvement compared to February 2021, with China being the key contributor.

“The positive momentum we saw in some key domestic markets in March is an indication of the strong recovery we are anticipating in international markets as travel restrictions are lifted.
“People want and need to fly. And we can be optimistic that they will do so when restrictions are removed,” said IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh.

“The emergence of new COVID-19 variants and rising cases in some countries are behind governments’ reluctance to lift travel restrictions and quarantine.
“However, we are beginning to see positive developments, such as the recent announcement by European Commission President von der Leyen that vaccinated travelers from the US will be allowed to enter the EU.

“At least 24 countries have already said they will welcome vaccinated travelers. We expect this to continue and gather momentum as vaccination numbers rise. However, governments should not rely only on vaccinations, as it risks discriminating against those individuals who are unable to get a vaccine for medical or other reasons, or who lack access to vaccines—a common situation in much of the world today. Affordable, timely and effective testing must be available as an alternative to vaccines in facilitating travel,” Walsh added.

“Furthermore, for as long as these health measures are required, governments need to accept digital COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates and to follow global standards for issuing their own vaccination certificates and test results,” said Walsh.