Airlines say travel numbers up but still just half of 2019 levels – dpa international


Beach in Ireland, July 2021. Visitors to beaches in 2021 are mosty travellers from within the same country (Simon Roughneen

Beach on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, July 2021. Visitors to the seaside at this time were mostly travellers from within the same country (Simon Roughneen)

International and domestic travel demand showed “significant momentum” in July compared to the previous month but remained overall 53 per cent below what was recorded in  the same month in 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“Extensive government-imposed travel restrictions continue to delay recovery in international markets,” said the IATA, which represents almost 300 airlines carrying around 8 in 10 of the world’s passengers.
There were huge differences between some regions and between domestic travel, which by July had recovered to within around 15 per cent of pre-pandemic numbers, and international, where the difference was a whopping 73.6 per cent, the IATA said.
In June, domestic travel was 22 per cent less than the same month two years ago, while international travel was down 80 per cent.
The hardest hit region remains the Asia-Pacific, which in July saw a near 95-per-cent-fall in international traffic compared to 2019, only slightly better than during the worst of the pandemic.
Many countries in the region have kept their borders largely shut since March last year, with  prospects of reopening dimming again in recent months as tourism-dependent countries such as Australia, Malaysia and Thailand report record virus numbers.
Border controls elsewhere are slowiy being loosened, with international travel in Europe and North America inching back up in July to about 60 per cent of what was recorded the same month two years ago, but the IATA wants to see more leeway.
“Recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh, who previously ran British Airways and before that Ireland’s flagship Aer Lingus.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline measured by passenger numbers, said on Tuesday he expect a “very strong recovery” for the continent’s air travel over the coming months.
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