Global air demand in February 2021 fell 74.7 percent compared with its pre-pandemic level in February 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association, a deeper drop than the 72.2 percent decline in January 2021. Compared with February 2019, global capacity in February 2021 dropped 74.7 percent while global load factor fell 25.3 percentage points to 55.4 percent.
The decline was due to still-minuscule demand for international air travel, according to IATA. Compared with February 2019, international air demand in February fell by 88.7 percent, the worst growth outcome since July 2020, according to IATA. International capacity fell 77.9 percent compared with February 2019, and load factor dropped 38.8 percentage points to 40.8 percent. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
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February’s domestic demand was down 51 percent compared to February 2019 and had a bigger fall than January, when it dropped 47.8 percent. IATA attributed the February decline to China’s weak domestic travel demand, which was influenced by the Chinese government’s requests that citizens stay at home during the Lunar New Year travel period. February’s domestic capacity was down 37.1 percent, and load factor dropped 18.3 percentage points to 64.3 percent.” February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh. “In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants.”
A significant bright spot in domestic demand was in Australia, which saw its decline in demand versus 2019 ease from 81.6 percent in January to 60.5 percent in February. “An important exception was the Australian domestic market,” Walsh said. “A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel. This tells us that people have not lost their desire to travel. They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures.”
The U.S. also saw an improvement in its domestic demand. In February, demand was down 56.1 percent versus February 2019, less than the 60.3 percent drop in January.