Global air travel rose 64.4 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, and reached 76.9 percent of pre-pandemic traffic volume in December 2022, according to a new report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Total air traffic for the full year was 68.5 percent of what it was in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated international travel, according to IATA’s Air Passenger Market Analysis report.
“The [airline] industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh, who said momentum toward matching pre-pandemic levels of air travel would continue into 2023.
A separate report from the international aircraft leasing firm Avalon predicted that air travel would return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2023.
“The rebound in 2022 is set to continue in 2023, with China’s reopening helping to drive global traffic levels to pre-pandemic levels by June,” said Avalon CEO Andy Cronin.
The Avalon report said the industry recovery will be particularly be driven by Asia, where more than half of all airline passenger capacity is being added.
2022 Saw Phenomenal Air Travel Growth
By December 2022, international travel had risen 152.7 percent over 2021 and reached 62.2 percent of 2019 levels, according to IATA. U.S. domestic travel rose a more modest 10.9 percent compared to last year and had hit almost 80 percent of the volume experienced in 2019.
Despite China being largely closed to international visitors all year, travel on Asia-Pacific airlines rose a remarkable 363.3 percent year-over-year from 2021 to 2022, the IATA report said. Traffic on European airlines rose 132.2 percent in the same time period; carriers in other regions also saw far more passenger demand and traffic from 2021 to 2022, including a 157.4 percent rise in the Middle East 130.2 percent in North America, 119.2 percent in Latin America, and 89.2 percent in Africa.
IATA represents 300 airlines, comprising 83 percent of global air traffic.