The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced passenger data for May 2022, showing that the recovery in air travel accelerated heading into the busy northern hemisphere summer travel season.

Total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) was up 83.1 per cent compared to May 2021, largely driven by the strong recovery in international traffic. Global traffic is now at 68.7 per cent of pre-crisis levels.

Domestic traffic

Domestic traffic for May 2022 was up 0.2 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Significant improvements in many markets were masked by a 73.2 per cent year-on-year decline in the Chinese domestic market due to Covid-19 related restrictions. May 2022 domestic traffic was 76.7 per cent of May 2019.

International traffic rose 325.8 per cent versus May 2021. The easing of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia is accelerating the recovery of international travel. May 2022 international RPKs reached 64.1 per cent of May 2019 levels.

‘People need to travel’

“The travel recovery continues to gather momentum. People need to travel. And when governments remove Covid-19 restrictions, they do. Many major international route areas – including within Europe, and the Middle East-North America routes – are already exceeding pre-Covid-19 levels,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“Completely removing all Covid-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week. The major exception to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a dramatic 73.2 per cent fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year.

“Its continuing zero-Covid policy is out-of-step with the rest of the world and it shows in the dramatically slower recovery of China-related travel.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter