The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that travel recovery continued to gather momentum this year with the easing of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia leading to a 325% jump in international air traffic growth over the same period last year.

Announcing its passenger data for May, IATA said the Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 317.2% in May compared to last year. May's capacity rose 115.7% versus the year-ago period, and load factor climbed 37.1 percentage points to 76.8%.

Total traffic in May 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was up 83.1% compared to May 2021, largely driven by the strong recovery in international traffic. Global traffic is now at 68.7% of pre-crisis levels.

The progressive re-opening of Asian markets is boosting traffic through Gulf hubs, it added.

According to IATA, the recovery in air travel had accelerated heading into the busy Northern Hemisphere summer travel season. International RPKs for May reached 64.1% of the 2019 levels.

The global aviation body pointed out that it has returned to year-on-year traffic comparisons, instead of comparisons with the 2019 period. "Owing to the low traffic base in 2021, some markets will show very high year-on-year growth rates, even if the size of these markets is still significantly smaller than they were in 2019," he added.

Domestic traffic for May 2022 was up 0.2% compared to the year-ago period. Significant improvements in many markets were masked by a 73.2% year-on-year decline in the Chinese domestic market due to COVID-19 related restrictions. May 2022 domestic traffic was 76.7% of May 2019.

International traffic rose 325.8% versus May 2021. The easing of travel restrictions in most parts of Asia is accelerating the recovery of international travel. May 2022 international RPKs reached 64.1% of May 2019 levels.

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