- Total demand for air travel in May 2021 was down 62.7% compared to May 2019.
- International passenger demand in May was 85.1% below May 2019.
- Total domestic demand was down 23.9% versus pre-crisis levels, slightly improved over April 2021.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that both international and domestic travel demand showed marginal improvements in May 2021, compared to the prior month, but traffic remained well below pre-pandemic levels. Recovery in international traffic in particular continued to be stymied by extensive government travel restrictions.
Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to May 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
- Total demand for air travel in May 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 62.7% compared to May 2019. That was a gain over the 65.2% decline recorded in April 2021 versus April 2019.
- International passenger demand in May was 85.1% below May 2019, a small step-up from the 87.2% decline recorded in April 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to this modest improvement.
- Total domestic demand was down 23.9% versus pre-crisis levels (May 2019), slightly improved over April 2021, when domestic traffic was down 25.5% versus the 2019 period. China and Russia traffic continue to be in in positive growth territory compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, while India and Japan saw significant deterioration amid new variants and outbreaks.
“We are starting to see positive developments, with some international markets opening to vaccinated travelers. The Northern Hemisphere summer travel season is now fully arrived. And it is disappointing that more governments are not moving more rapidly to use data to drive border opening strategies that would help revive tourism jobs and reunite families,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.