01/02/2024 10:43 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 (Bernama) -- The recovery in air travel continued in December 2023, with the total 2023 traffic edging even closer to matching pre-pandemic demand, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

IATA said total traffic in 2023, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), rose 36.9 per cent compared to 2022. 

"Globally, the full-year 2023 traffic was at 94.1 per cent of the pre-pandemic (2019) levels," it said in a statement. 

IATA said the December 2023 total traffic rose 25.3 per cent versus December 2022 and reached 97.5 per cent of the December 2019 level.

It further said the fourth quarter total traffic stood at 98.2 per cent of 2019 levels, reflecting the strong recovery towards the end of the year.

"The international traffic in 2023 climbed 41.6 per cent versus 2022 and reached 88.6 per cent of 2019 levels, while the December 2023 international traffic climbed 24.2 per cent over December 2022, reaching 94.7 per cent of the level in December 2019. 

"The fourth quarter (international) traffic was at 94.5 per cent of 2019," it said.

Meanwhile, the domestic traffic for 2023 rose 30.4 per cent compared to the prior year, with the 2023 domestic traffic recording 3.9 per cent above the full-year 2019 level. 

It noted that the December 2023 domestic traffic was up 27 per cent over the year-earlier period and was at 2.3 per cent above December 2019 traffic, with the fourth quarter domestic traffic being 4.4 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2019.

IATA’s director-general Willie Walsh said the December traffic stood at just 2.5 per cent below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in the fourth quarter, preparing airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024. 

"The recovery in travel is good news and the restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations and much more,” he said.

However, he urged governments to take a strategic approach in order to maximise the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world, including measures to provide cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, incentivise sustainable aviation fuel production to meet the net zero carbon emission goal by 2050 and adopt regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit. 


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