This was driven by recovery in domestic markets, in particular China, where some travel curbs were lifted following the Covid-19 outbreaks in August. International demand, meanwhile, slipped slightly compared to the previous month.
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of Covid-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to September 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern. Total demand for air travel in September 2021 was down 53.4 per cent compared to September 2019. This marked an uptick from August, when demand was 56.0 per cent below August 2019 levels.
Recovery remains stalled despite positive development
Domestic markets were down 24.3 per cent compared to September 2019, a significant improvement from August 2021, when traffic was down 32.6 per cent versus two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, although the latter remained in solid growth territory compared to 2019. International passenger demand in September was 69.2 per cent below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7 per cent decline recorded in August.
“September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid continuing border closures and quarantine mandates,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “The recent US policy change to reopen travel from 33 markets for fully vaccinated foreigners from 8 November is a welcome, if long overdue, development. Along with recent re-openings in other key markets like Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore this should give a boost to the large-scale restoration of the freedom to travel.”