Namibia: Global Airline Passenger Demand Remains Depressed

Global airline passenger demand performance for June 2021 showed a slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets. However, overall demand remains significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels owing to untiring international travel restrictions.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week announced that African airlines' traffic fell 68.2% in June versus the same month two years ago, an improvement from the 71.5% decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity however contracted 60.0% versus June 2019 as the load factor declined 14.5 percentage points to 56.5%.

Meanwhile, total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 60.1% compared to June 2019. This was a small improvement over the 62.9% decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019. IATA pointed out that comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of the global pandemic.

Moreover, international passenger demand in June was 80.9% below June 2019, an improvement from the 85.4% decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago.

Total domestic demand was down 22.4% versus pre-crisis levels (June 2019), a slight gain over the 23.7% decline recorded in May 2021 versus the 2019 period.

"We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets. But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need to be. June should be the start of peak season, but airlines were carrying just 20% of 2019 levels. That's not a recovery, it's a continuing crisis caused by government inaction," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

In terms of cargo, African airlines' international demand for June increased 33.5% compared to the same month in 2019, which was the strongest performance of all global regions. The increase was however notable on small volumes as African carriers carry 2% of global cargo). Overall international cargo capacity in June decreased by 4.9% compared to the same month in 2019.

"Air cargo is doing brisk business as the global economy continues its recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. With first-half demand 8% above pre-crisis levels, air cargo is a revenue lifeline for many airlines as they struggle with border closures that continue to devastate the international passenger business. Importantly, the strong first-half performance looks set to continue," said Walsh.

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