The total demand for air travel was down 74.7 percent compared to February 2019, which the release stated was the point of comparison due to COVID-19’s distortion of the numbers in 2020. That number is worse than the January lag of 72.2 percent compared to two years ago.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in the release that February “showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel.”
“In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants,” he said in the release. “An important exception was the Australian domestic market. A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel. This tells us that people have not lost their desire travel. They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures.”
The international passenger demand in February was 88.7 percent below that of two years prior, which was also a bigger drop from January’s stat of 85.7 percent lower. The February number also constitutes the worst growth outcome since July, according to the release.
Total domestic demand was down 51 percent from before the pandemic. In January it was down 47.8 percent. That comes from the weakness in Chinese travel, which was driven by government requests that citizens stay home during the Lunar New Year period, the release stated.
The pandemic’s dire effects on the airline industry have been well documented, with a report last month stating U.S. air traffic fell to its lowest numbers since 1974, dropping 62 percent from December 2019 to December 2020. That data came from 22 airline companies that carry over 90 percent of passengers.
To combat the losses, airlines have had to make up new strategies, including using whole flights just for cargo space.