IATA: 2022 ends on a strong note for the global air passenger industry

Positive trend remained strong throughout 2022

Over the course of 2022, global air passenger traffic gained momentum and recovered substantially as travel restrictions were taken down and passengers expressed a very strong willingness to travel, reports the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Passenger traffic recovered from 41.7% of 2019 volumes in 2021 to 68.5% in 2022.

Total traffic in 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 64.4% compared to 2021. Globally, full year 2022 traffic was at 68.5% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels.

December 2022 total traffic rose 39.7% compared to December 2021 and reached 76.9% of the December 2019 level.

At the industry level, passenger demand was met by offered seat capacity in 2022, as available seat-kilometers (ASKs) recovered to 71.9% of 2019 levels, while maintaining industry-wide passenger load factors of 78.7%, says IATA.

Passenger load factors for 2022 were only 3.9 percentage points below the load factors achieved before the pandemic in 2019. Similar observations can also be made at the regional level.

“The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year, despite some governments’ over-reactions to China’s re-opening,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.

International passenger traffic recovered substantially in 2022

In 2022, international passenger traffic more than doubled with 152.7% YoY growth. All regions experienced strong growth propelled by pent-up demand for air travel and easing restrictions globally.

December 2022 international traffic climbed 80.2% over December 2021, reaching 75.1% of the level in December 2019.


Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 363.3% rise in full year international 2022 traffic compared to 2021, maintaining the strongest year-over-year rate among the regions. Capacity rose 129.9% and the load factor climbed 37.3 percentage points to 74.0%. December 2022 traffic rose 302.7% compared to December 2021.

European carriers’ full year traffic climbed 132.2% versus 2021. Capacity increased 84.0%, and load factor rose 16.7 percentage points to 80.6%. December demand climbed 46.5% compared to the same month in 2021.

Middle Eastern airlines saw a 157.4% traffic rise in 2022 com-pared to 2021. Capacity increased 73.8% and load factor climbed 24.6 percentage points to 75.8%. December demand climbed 69.8% compared to the same month in 2021.

North American carriers reported a 130.2% annual traffic rise in 2022 compared to 2021. Capacity increased 71.3%, and load factor climbed 20.7 percentage points to 80.8%. December 2022 traffic rose 61.3% compared to the year-ago period.

Latin American airlines posted a 119.2% traffic rise in 2022 over full year 2021. Annual capacity climbed 93.3% and load factor increased 9.7 percentage points to 82.2%, the highest among the regions. December demand climbed 37.0% compared to December 2021.

African airlines’ annual traffic rose 89.2% in 2022 versus the prior year. Full year 2022 capacity was up 51.0% and load factor climbed 14.5 percentage points to 71.7%, the lowest among regions. December 2022 traffic for African airlines rose 118.8% over the year-earlier.

Domestic traffic for 2022 rose 10.9% compared to the prior year. 2022 domestic traffic was at 79.6% of the full year 2019 level.

December 2022 domestic traffic was up 2.6% over the year earlier period and was at 79.9% of December 2019 traffic.

The U.S. domestic market demand remained strong in December and throughout the year. RPKs reached 94.1% of 2019 traffic in 2022 and the month of December fell 8.7% short of December 2019 traffic levels.

In Brazil, domestic traffic was close to pre-pandemic levels in 2022 with RPKs totaling 94.6% of 2019 levels. December 2022 RPKs were 9.3% lower than December 2019 RPKs.

India’s domestic RPKs increased substantially in 2022 with concerns of new COVID-19 outbreaks fading away. Domestic RPKs for 2022 accounted for 85.7% of 2019 levels while December 2022 stood 3.6% below traffic for the same month in 2019.

In Japan, domestic traffic quickly rebounded in 2022 and achieved 74.1% of the recovery to 2019 levels. December RPKs for the domestic market were 8.7% under those of December 2019.

Australia experienced a similar rebound, with RPKs recovering to 81.2% of 2019 levels, a substantial 42.8 ppts increase from 2021.

Insufficient data prevented IATA from reporting on developments in Russia’s domestic market.