African airlines’ traffic dropped 68.0 per cent in February compared to February two years ago. T
his has been described as a setback compared to a 66.1 per cent decline recorded in January compared to January 2019. Consequently, February capacity contracted 54.6 per cent versus February 2019, and load factor fell 20.5 percentage points to 49.1 per cent.
This is coming as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that passenger traffic fell in February 2021, both compared to pre- COVID levels (February 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (January 2020).
Because comparisons between 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 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019.
hat was worse than the 72.2 per cent decline recorded in January 2021 versus two years ago. International passenger demand in February was 88.7 per cent below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
Total domestic demand was down 51.0 per cent versus precrisis (February 2019) levels. In January it was down 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