While airline passenger numbers have seen a significant surge in June, many airports are failing to keep up, causing frustration and disruptions for travelers. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passenger traffic in June 2022 increased by a substantial 76.2% compared to the same period last year. However, this growth still only represents 70.8% of pre-pandemic levels, highlighting the challenges the industry continues to face.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, expressed his concerns about the limitations imposed by some airports that are unable to handle the sudden surge in passenger recovery. He pointed out that these airports have extended their passenger caps until the end of October, hindering airlines from fully benefiting from the rebound in demand.
Heathrow Airport, in particular, came under scrutiny for attempting to blame airlines for the disruptions. However, Walsh emphasized that the data indicates a lack of basic services, with the airport missing its Passenger Security service target by a significant 14.3 points for the first six months of this year. He further predicted that June data would reveal the lowest level of service by the airport in its history.
The most robust recovery has been observed in the Asia-Pacific region, with passenger traffic in June surging by an impressive 492% compared to June 2021. Capacity rose by 138.9%, and the load factor increased by 45.8 percentage points to reach 76.7%. The region, which includes Australia, is relatively open to foreign visitors and tourism, significantly contributing to the recovery.
The substantial rebound in the Asia-Pacific region has driven a global recovery, with international traffic increasing by 229.5% compared to June 2021. However, it remains at only 65% of June 2019 levels.
On a global scale, domestic traffic saw a 5.2% increase in June compared to the same period the previous year, reaching 81.4% of pre-pandemic June 2019 levels.
Another noteworthy area of growth is the Middle East, where passenger traffic through hubs like Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi surged by 246.5% in June compared to the same month in 2021.
Despite the optimism surrounding the summer travel season in the Northern Hemisphere, the challenges posed by meeting the growing demand continue to persist. Some airline executives are now projecting that it will take another two years for the industry to fully return to pre-pandemic levels of capacity and service.
In summary, while passenger numbers are rebounding strongly in the airline industry, the inability of certain airports to cope with the recovery is causing disruptions and limiting the sector’s growth. It’s a challenging period for the aviation industry as it navigates its way back to pre-pandemic levels of operation and service.