African airlines had a 69.5% rise in February traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), versus a year ago, which is a large improvement compared to the 20.5% year-over-year increase recorded in January 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. Africa’s February 2022 capacity was up 34.7% and the load factor climbed 12.9 percentage points to 63%.
This is according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which announced that global air travel posted a strong rebound in February 2022 compared to January 2022, as Omicron-related impacts moderated outside of Asia. The war in Ukraine, which began on 24 February, did not have a major impact on traffic levels.
Total global traffic in February 2022 was up 115.9% compared to February 2021. That is an improvement from January 2022, which was up 83.1% compared to January 2021. Compared to February 2019, however, traffic was down 45.5%.
February 2022 domestic traffic was up 60.7% compared to the year-ago period, building on a 42.6% increase in January 2022 compared to January 2021. There was wide variation in markets tracked by IATA. Domestic traffic in February was 21.8% below the volumes of February 2019.
International RPKs rose 256.8% versus February 2021, improved from a 165.5% year-over-year increase in January 2022 versus the year-earlier period. All regions improved their performance compared to the prior month. February 2022 international RPKs were down 59.6% compared to the same month in 2019.
“The recovery in air travel is gathering steam as governments in many parts of the world lift travel restrictions. States that persist in attempting to lock out the disease, rather than managing it, as we do with other diseases, risk missing out on the enormous economic and societal benefits that restoration of international connectivity will bring,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.
IATA also noted that it has returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period, unless otherwise stated. Owing to the low traffic base in 2021, some markets will show very high year-on-year growth rates, even if the size of these markets is still significantly smaller than they were in 2019.