Middle East passenger traffic remains stable as air travel enters early stages of recovery

Global passenger demand sees slight improvement in May as the Chinese domestic market begins to reboot
Passenger traffic, Iata

Passenger traffic in the Middle East contracted by less than 1% between April and May while global traffic increased slightly, largely driven by the resumption in Chinese domestic flights.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 98% drop in traffic for May, year-on-year, compared with a 97.3% demand drop in April. Capacity in the region fell almost 94% and load factor sagged to 24%, according to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Globally, overall passenger demand dropped 91.3% in May compared to the same month in 2019. This was a mild uptick from the 94% annual decline recorded in April 2020.

“May was not quite as terrible as April. That’s about the best thing that can be said,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO.  

“As predicted, the first improvements in passenger demand are occurring in domestic markets. International traffic remained virtually stopped in May. We are only at the very beginning of a long and difficult recovery.”

Global domestic traffic fell 79.2% in May. This was an improvement compared to an 86.2% decline in April.

The air travel industry appears to be in the very early stages of a recovery, IATA said in a statement.

Mr de Juniac called on governments to avoid implementing entry quarantine measures. They have the same impact as outright travel bans, he said.

“It is in everybody’s interest, including governments, to remove barriers to travel as soon as it is safe to do so. And in the process, it is critical that governments don’t stall the fragile recovery by introducing new regulatory or cost barriers to travel.”

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