African airlines’ traffic shrunk by 68 per cent in February year-on-year, according to a latest by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The development was a setback compared to a 66.1 per cent decline recorded in January 2021, far less than that of January 2019.
The February capacity of the airlines also contracted by 54.6 per cent as against February 2019, while the load factor fell 20.5 percentage points to 49.1 per cent.
The association disclosed that passenger traffic fell in February 2021, both compared to pre-COVID levels (February 2019) and to the immediate month prior (January 2020).
According to the report, the total demand for air travel in February 2021 (measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) was down 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019.
This is worse than the 72.2 per cent decline recorded in January 2021.
International passenger demand in February was 88.7 percent below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7 percent year-to-year decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020.
The IATA report showed that performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
Total domestic demand was down 51% compared to the pre-crisis era of February 2019 levels; in January, it was down 47.8% compared to what obtained in the same month of 2019.
The report said it was due to weakness in China travel, driven by government requests that citizens stayed at home during the Lunar New Year travel period.
Commenting, IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh said, “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. An important exception was the Australian domestic market.”