IATA reports air travel has reached 99% of 2019 levels

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for November 2023 air travel performance indicating that air travel demand topped 99% of 2019 levels.

The figures paint a vivid picture of a sector bouncing back from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Glimpse into the Numbers

The IATA report reveals that air travel demand in November 2023 surged, reaching an impressive 99% of the pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019.

This remarkable feat signifies not just a recovery but a potential surpassing of the 2019 peak year for air travel.

Global Traffic

November 2023 witnessed a substantial uptick in total air traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), with a remarkable 29.7% increase compared to the same month in 2022.

Globally, the traffic has now rebounded to 99.1% of the levels recorded in November 2019, showcasing the industry’s resilience.


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International vs. Domestic

International Sector

The international sector reported a robust performance, with a 26.4% increase in traffic compared to November 2022.

The Asia-Pacific region emerged as the frontrunner, boasting an impressive 63.8% year-over-year growth, reaching 94.5% of November 2019 levels.

These numbers indicate a strong rebound and a promising trajectory for international air travel.

Domestic Sector

On the home front, November 2023 witnessed a surge of 34.8% in domestic air traffic compared to the previous year.

Notably, China exhibited remarkable growth, soaring by 272%, a testament to its recovery from COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The United States also experienced a significant upswing, marking a new high with a 9.1% expansion over November 2019, fueled by robust Thanksgiving holiday demand.

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Regional Roundup: From Asia-Pacific to Africa


Asia-Pacific airlines took the lead with a staggering 63.8% rise in November traffic.

Capacity increased by 58.0%, and the load factor reached an impressive 82.6%, showcasing the region’s dominance in the air travel resurgence.


European carriers recorded a commendable 14.8% increase in November traffic, with capacity growing by 15.2%.

Although the load factor experienced a slight dip, standing at 83.3%, the region’s steady recovery is evident.

Middle East

The Middle Eastern airlines reported an 18.6% rise in November traffic, with a simultaneous 19.0% increase in capacity. Despite a marginal dip in load factor to 77.4%, the region maintains an upward trajectory.

North America

North American carriers experienced a 14.3% rise in November traffic, fueled by a 16.3% increase in capacity.

Although the load factor saw a slight decline to 80.0%, the region remains a key player in the global aviation recovery.

Latin America

Latin American airlines recorded a significant 20.0% rise in November traffic, with capacity climbing by 17.7%. Notably, the region boasted the highest load factor at 84.9%, underscoring its robust comeback.


African airlines demonstrated a 22.1% rise in November RPKs, despite a 4.3% decrease in load factor. While capacity increased by 29.6%, Africa faces unique challenges in its journey towards aviation recovery.


In the words of Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, “Aviation’s rapid recovery from COVID demonstrates just how important flying is to people and to businesses.”

The November 2023 data not only signifies a rebound but also emphasizes the urgency of transitioning to Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for decarbonization.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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