May 2021 IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis 
Published July 7, 2021.  

Air travel sustains recovery with challenges ahead


  • Passenger traffic continued to recover in May with the support of domestic travel. However, industry-wide revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs) were 62.7% lower compared to the pre-pandemic level (May 2019) since tight travel restrictions delayed the revival of international travel.
  • Industry-wide seasonally adjusted available seat-kilometres were stable in May while load factors improved with the strength in domestic travel demand.
  • The strength of the global economic recovery and rebound in bookings in June raise some optimism for summer recovery. However, increased concerns about new covid waves with the emergence of new variants put the expected rebound in travel in the second half of 2021 at risk.

African airlines best performers in weak global travel market

International travel market remains weak, African airlines were the best performer since travel restrictions are less strict in the region. Seasonally adjusted load factors improved compared to April in all regions except for Asia-Pacific and Africa.

Air travel sustained its recovery in May…

Air travel demand sustained its moderate recovery in May. Seasonally adjusted revenue passenger kilometres (SA RPKs) in May increased for the fourth consecutive month, up 2.4% month-on-month. Overall, industry-wide RPKs were 62.7% lower compared to the pre-crisis period (May 2019) since international traffic is limited. This was a progress compared to the previous month since the same metric was 65.2% lower in April 2021 compared with April 2019...Download the full document here.