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Travel bans hit Middle East airlines in July

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Muscat: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that while international and domestic travel demand showed improvement in July 2021 compared to June, it still remained far below pre-pandemic levels due to extensive government-imposed travel restrictions.

Total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.1 percent compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60 percent below June 2019 levels.

International passenger demand in July was 73.6 percent below July 2019, bettering the 80.9 percent decline recorded in June 2021 versus two years ago. All regions showed improvement and North American airlines posted the smallest decline in international RPKs (July traffic data from Africa was not available).

Total domestic demand was down 15.6 percent versus pre-crisis levels (July 2019), compared to the 22.1 percent decline recorded in June over June 2019. Russia posted the best result for another month, with RPKs up 28.9 percent vs. July 2019.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 74.5% demand drop in July compared to July 2019, surpassing the 79.2% decrease in June, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 59.5%, and load factor deteriorated 30.1 percentage points to 51.3%.

The statistics for the first half of 2021 indicate that the activities of Civil aviation in the Sultanate were affected by the effects of the pandemic, in line with the global impact on the sector.

The number of incoming and outgoing passengers flights in Oman decreased by 70 percent and 81 percent, respectively. The number of cargo flights decreased 26 percent during the same period.

"July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Domestic traffic was back to 85% of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes. The problem is border control measures. Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines. People traveled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets. A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel. At a minimum, vaccinated travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

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