The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the strong post-pandemic passenger traffic trend continued in September.
Total traffic in September 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 30.1 percent compared to September 2022. Globally, traffic is now at 97.3 percent of pre-COVID levels.
Domestic traffic hit a new high for the month of September, as traffic rose 28.3 percent versus September 2022 and exceeded the September 2019 level by 5.0 percent.
International traffic climbed 31.2 percent compared to the same month a year ago. All markets saw double-digit percentage gains year on year. International RPKs reached 93.1 percent of September 2019 levels.
“The third quarter of 2023 ended on a high note, with record domestic passenger demand for the month of September and continued strong international traffic,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
Asia-Pacific airlines had a 92.6 percent increase in September 2023 traffic compared to September 2022, continuing to lead the regions in terms of annual improvement. Capacity climbed 82.1 percent and the load factor increased by 4.5 percentage points to 82.5 percent.
European carriers’ September traffic climbed 15.7 percent versus September 2022. Capacity increased 14.9 percent, and load factor edged up 0.6 percentage points to 85.5 percent.
Middle Eastern airlines saw a 26.6 percent increase in September traffic compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 23.7 percent and load factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 81.8 percent.
North American carriers had an 18.9 percent traffic rise in September 2023 versus the 2022 period. Capacity increased 18.0 percent, and load factor improved 0.6 percentage points to 85.6 percent.
Latin American airlines’ traffic rose 26.8 percent compared to the same month in 2022. September capacity climbed 24.7 percent and load factor rose 1.4 percentage points to 85.8 percent.
African airlines posted a 28.1 percent traffic increase in September 2023 versus a year ago. Capacity was up 29.9 percent and load factor slipped 1.0 percentage points to 72.6 percent.
“With the end of 2023 fast approaching, we can look back on a year of strong recovery in demand as passengers took full advantage of their freedom to travel. There is every reason to believe that this momentum can be maintained in the New Year, despite economic and political uncertainties in parts of the world.
“But we need the whole value chain to be ready. Supply chain issues in the aircraft manufacturing sector are unacceptable. They have held back the recovery and solutions must be found.
“The same holds true for infrastructure providers, particularly air navigation service providers. Equipment failures, staffing shortages and labour unrest made it impossible to deliver the flying experience our customers expect. A successful 2024 needs the whole value chain to be fully prepared to handle the demand that is coming,” said Walsh.