According to data compiled by Tourism FM, total traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPK) in April 2023 increased by 45.8 percent compared to April 2022, while traffic globally is now at 90.5 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The industry's load factor was 81.3 percent, just 1.8 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.
Domestic traffic for April increased by 42.6 percent year-on-year and fully recovered, recording a 2.9 percent increase compared to April 2019 results. international traffic increased by 48.0 percent compared to April 2022, with healthy growth across all markets, with carriers in the Asia-Pacific region continuing to lead the recovery. International RPKs reached 83.6 percent of April 2019 levels.
International Passenger Markets
Asia-Pacific airlines recorded a 192.7 percent increase in April 2023 traffic compared to April 2022, with capacity up 145.3 percent and load factor up 13.2 percentage points to 81.6 percent. European carriers' traffic increased by 22.6 percent compared to April 2022. Capacity increased by 16.0 percent, while load factor rose by 4.5 percentage points to 83.3 percent, the second highest increase among regions. Middle Eastern airlines recorded a 38.0 percent increase in traffic compared to April a year ago. Capacity increased by 27.8 percent, while load factor rose 5.6 percentage points to 76.2 percent. North American carriers' traffic increased by 34.8 percent in April 2023 compared to the 2022 period. Capacity increased by 26.5 percent, while load factor rose 5.2 percentage points to 83.8 percent, the highest among regions.
North American international traffic is now fully recovered, with RPKs 0.4 percent above April 2019 levels. Latin American airlines recorded a traffic increase of 25.8 percent compared to the same month in 2022. April capacity increased by 26.4 percent, while load factor decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 83.1 percent. African airlines' traffic increased by 53.5 percent in April 2023 compared to a year ago, the second highest growth rate among regions. April capacity increased by 50.0 percent, while load factor rose by 1.6 percentage points to 69.8 percent, the lowest among the regions.
Domestic Passenger Markets
China's domestic traffic increased by 536.2 percent in April compared to a year ago, exceeding April 2019 levels by 6.0 percent. US airlines' domestic demand increased by 5.5 percent in April, 3.3 percent above April 2019 levels.
April saw a continuation of the strong traffic trend seen in the first quarter of 2023, with falling inflation and rising consumer confidence in most OECD countries, coupled with a fall in jet fuel prices, indicating continued strong demand for air travel and easing cost pressures, IATA Director General Willie Walsh told Tourism FM:
"As the Northern Hemisphere enters peak travel season, planes and airports are packed with people looking to exercise their freedom of movement. Airlines are working hard to provide them with a seamless travel experience, despite ongoing supply chain constraints and other operational challenges. Unfortunately, some governments seem more interested in punitive regulations than doing their part to ensure smooth travel. The Dutch Government's effort to reduce capacity at Schiphol airport is one example. We are also focused on EU-style passenger rights regulations that are spreading like a contagious disease. Proponents of this approach miss an important fact. EU 261 has not led to a reduction in delays. This is because penalizing airlines increases airline costs but does not address delays caused by factors over which airlines have no control, such as inefficient air traffic management or understaffing at air navigation service providers. The best Europe can do to improve the travel experience is to implement the Single European Sky. For other governments considering passenger rights regulations, avoiding repeating Europe's mistake would be a useful starting point.''