Passenger traffic experiences another decline in February 2021

Total global passenger demand in February 2021 saw a decline of 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019, an even steeper fall than January 2021.

Passenger demand remained disappointingly low in October 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published new data which shows that global passenger traffic fell once again in February 2021, both compared to pre-COVID-19 levels (February 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (January 2021). 

Because comparisons between the 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are to February 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

Total demand for air travel in February 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) was down by 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019. That was worse than the 72.2 per cent decline recorded in January 2021 versus 2019.

International passenger demand in February 2021 was 88.7 per cent below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in January 2021 and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.  

Total domestic demand was down by 51 per cent versus pre-crisis (February 2019) levels. In January 2021, it was down by 47.8 per cent on the 2019 period. This largely was owing to weakness in China travel, driven by government requests that citizens stay at home during the Lunar New Year travel period. 

“February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel. In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction, as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants. An important exception was the Australian domestic market. A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel. This tells us that people have not lost their desire travel. They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General

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