IATA: Air travel recovery continues strongly despite Ukraine war

Written by: Samantha Payne |
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Passenger figures remain strong despite the war in Ukraine and the ongoing Covid crisis in Asia.

The total traffic in March 2022 was up 76% compared to the same month last year, the closest to 2019 pre-pandemic levels reached so far, IATA reported.

European carriers continued to lead the recovery in March (425.4% rise) followed by Middle Eastern ( 245.8%) and North American (227.8%) airlines. Asia-Pacific carriers had a 197.1% rise in March traffic compared to March 2021.

Despite improvements in air travel, staff shortages are affecting many airports. And in the Netherlands, passengers are being paying the price for Covid with airlines cancelling bookings and the government introducing taxes.

“With barriers to travel coming down in most places, we are seeing the long-expected surge in pent-up demand finally being realised. Unfortunately, we are also seeing long delays at many airports with insufficient resources to handle the growing numbers. This must be addressed urgently to avoid frustrating consumer enthusiasm for air travel," said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

"The ongoing recovery in air travel is excellent news for the global economy, for friends and families whose forced separations are being ended, and for the millions of people who depend on air transport for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, some government actions are emerging as key impediments to recovery. This is demonstrated most dramatically in the Netherlands."

Hitting connectivity where it hurts
Schiphol airport is being allowed by the regulator to repay itself on the back of airlines and consumers for Covid-19 losses with a 37% hike in airport charges over the next three years.

Simultaneously, the airport has asked airlines to cancel bookings and new sales this week, at huge inconvenience to passengers, claiming shortfalls in airport staffing, including government provided security functions. And the government itself is planning to increase passenger taxes by 400 million euros annually with the stated purpose of discouraging travel.

"Seeing the Dutch government work to dismantle connectivity, fail to provide critical airport operational resources and enable price gouging by its hub airport is a destructive triple whammy. These actions will cost jobs. They will hurt consumers who already struggling with price inflation. And they will deplete resources that airlines need to achieve their Net Zero sustainability commitment," said Walsh.

"The Dutch government has forgotten a key lesson from the Covid-19 crisis which is that everyone’s quality of life suffers without efficient air connectivity. It must reverse course, and others must not follow their terrible example. To secure the recovery and its economic and social benefits, the immediate priority is for governments to have plans in place to meet expected demand this summer. Many people have waited two years for a summer holiday – it should not be ruined through lack of preparation."

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