As with much of this pandemic as case counts wane and travel restrictions are eased, air travel picks up.
Recently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data showing growing momentum in the recovery of air travel as restrictions are lifted.
Improved Ticket Sales
IATA reported a sharp 11-percentage point increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks (in proportion to 2019 sales).
- In the period around 8 February (7 day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 49% of the same period in 2019.
- In the period around 25 January (7 day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 38% of the same period in 2019.
- The 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.
Progressive Alleviation of COVID-19 Measures
The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments announce a relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions. An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92% of global demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometers) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travelers.
- 18 markets (comprising about 20% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements.
- 28 markets are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine requirements (including the 18 markets noted above). This comprises about 50% of 2019 demand.
- 37 markets (comprising about 60% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine or both).
These numbers reflect a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden among them.
“Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets. And that is good news! Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. This means putting a stop to the singling out of the traveling population for special measures. In nearly all cases, travelers don’t bring any more risk to a market than is already there. Many governments have recognized this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow,” said Walsh.
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