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Global air travel recovery continued in 2023: IATA

The number of passengers using the Muscat International Airport increased 19 percent in December 2023
The number of passengers using the Muscat International Airport increased 19 percent in December 2023

Muscat: The recovery in air travel continued in December 2023 and total traffic edged even closer to matching pre-pandemic demand, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Middle Eastern airlines saw a 33.3 percent traffic rise in 2023 compared to 2022. Capacity increased 26 percent and load factor climbed 4.4 percentage points to 80.1 percent. December demand climbed 16.6 percent compared to the same month in 2022.

The number of passengers using the Muscat International Airport increased 19 percent to 1,192,832 in December 2023 compared to 999,935 in the same period last year, according to the figures issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

During the same period, aircraft movement at Muscat Airport increased by 15 percent to 9,233 in 2023 from 8,035 in 2022.

---Global trend

Total traffic in 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 36.9 percent compared to 2022. Globally, full-year 2023 traffic was at 94.1 percent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels.

December 2023 total traffic rose 25.3 percent compared to December 2022 and reached 97.5 percent of the December 2019 level.

Fourth quarter traffic was at 98.2 percent of 2019, reflecting the strong recovery towards the end of the year.

International traffic in 2023 climbed 41.6 percent versus 2022 and reached 88.6 percent of 2019 levels.

In December 2023 international traffic climbed 24.2 percent over December 2022, reaching 94.7 percent of the level in December 2019.

Fourth-quarter traffic was at 94.5 percent in 2019.

Domestic traffic for 2023 rose 30.4 percent compared to the prior year. 2023 domestic traffic was 3.9 percent above the full-year 2019 level.

December 2023 domestic traffic was up 27 percent over the year-earlier period and was at 2.3 percent above December 2019 traffic.

Fourth-quarter traffic was 4.4 percent higher than in the same quarter in 2019.

“The strong post-pandemic rebound continued in 2023. December traffic stood just 2.5% below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in quarter 4, teeing up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024. The recovery in travel is good news. The restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations, and much more. But to maximize the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world, governments need to take a strategic approach. That means providing cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production to meet our net zero carbon emission goal by 2050, and adopting regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit. Completing the recovery must not be an excuse for governments to forget the critical role of aviation to increasing the prosperity and well-being of people and businesses the world over,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

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