African airlines’ air traffic increased by 71.7% in March 2023 versus a year ago, representing the second-highest increase among all global regions. This is as the continent’s March capacity was up 56.2% and the load factor climbed 6.5 percentage points to 72.2%, which is still the lowest amongst all regions.
These figures were released this week by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which announced strong overall demand growth in air travel for March 2023.
Total traffic in March 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) rose 52.4%, compared to March 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 88% of March 2019 levels.
Domestic traffic for March rose 34.1% compared to the year-ago period, while total March 2023 domestic traffic was at 98.9% of the March 2019 level.
International traffic climbed 68.9% versus March 2022 with all markets recording healthy growth, led once again by carriers in the Asia-Pacific region. International RPKs reached 81.6% of March 2019 levels, while the load factor at 81.3% exceeded the March 2019 level by 10.1 percentage points.
“The calendar year first quarter ended on a strong note for air travel demand. Domestic markets have been near their pre-pandemic levels for months. And for international trave,l two key waypoints were topped. First, demand increased by 3.5 percentage points, compared to the previous month’s growth to reach 81.6% of pre-Covid levels. This was led by a near-tripling of demand for Asia-Pacific carriers as China’s re-opening took hold. And efficiency is improving as international load factors reached 81.3%. Even more importantly, ticket sales for both domestic and international travel give every indication that strong growth will continue into the peak Northern Hemisphere summer travel season,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia-Pacific airlines had a 283.1% increase in March 2023 traffic compared to March 2022, continuing the robust momentum since the lifting of travel restrictions in the region. European carriers posted a 38.5% traffic rise versus March 2022, and Middle Eastern airlines saw a 43.1% traffic increase compared to March a year ago. North American carriers’ traffic climbed 51.6% in March 2023 versus the 2022 period, and Latin American airlines had a 36.5% traffic increase compared to the same month in 2022.
“As traveller expectations build towards the peak Northern Hemisphere summer travel season, airlines are doing their best to meet the desire and need to fly. Unfortunately, a lack of capacity means that some of those travellers may be disappointed. Part of this capacity shortfall is attributable to the widely reported labour shortages impacting many parts of the aviation value chain, as well as supply chain issues affecting the aircraft manufacturing sector that is resulting in aircraft delivery delays. However, a significant share of recent flight cancellations, primarily in Europe, are owing to job actions by air traffic controllers and others. These irresponsible actions resulted in thousands of unnecessary cancellations in March. This is unacceptable, and should not be tolerated by the authorities,” stressed Walsh.