A rise in domestic demand and business confidence in key markets led to an increase in demand for air travel last month, the International Air Transport Association said, as the aviation sector saw promising signs of recovery in passenger traffic after plunging to unprecedented levels.

Traffic and airline capacity had reached their lowest point relative to 2019 in April as a third of the global population remained in lockdown as part of efforts to curb the global spread of the new coronavirus.

Governments in 75 percent of the markets the IATA tracks had banned all entry by the first week of April, it said, while another 19 percent had limited travel restrictions in place, such as compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals.

Between January and April, carriers reduced the in-service fleet by half to 13,000 aircraft while load factors stood at just 36.6 percent. In April, Africa saw traffic fall by 98.7 percent, and the average passenger load factor was 7.7 percent.

But for the first time since the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has seen growth in flights, which rose 30 percent between April 21 and May 27, 2020, according to IATA data.

With many countries easing their lockdowns from last month, airlines across the world have either resumed operations or announced plans for a gradual return to service. Tanzania opened its airspace to international air travel starting June 1 with Ethiopian, Emirates, Flydubai, and Qatar airlines all saying they will resume services to the country this month.

Some other indicators of recovery include flight levels in South Korea, China, and Vietnam, which are now 22 to 28 percent below 2019 levels while searches for air travel on Google were up 25 percent at the end of May compared with the low point in April. Although the IATA says the rise is still 60 percent lower than at the start of the year.

The recovery is led by domestic operations in a cluster of markets in Asia, the United States, and Europe, though demand fell 94.3 percent year-on-year, in what is the sharpest decline in the 30 years that the lobby has been publishing monthly traffic data.

The industry may have seen the worst of the crisis as long as there is no relapse, the association said. “April may represent the nadir of the crisis,” director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said this month.

Source: venturesafrica.com