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Global air travel surges 52.4% in March

World air traffic grew 52.4% from a year earlier in March, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday.

Air traffic – measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs – was 12% lower than its pre-pandemic level in March 2019.

“Ticket sales for both domestic and international travel give every indication that strong growth will continue into the peak Northern Hemisphere summer travel season,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said in a statement.

International traffic jumped 68.9% from last year, with RPKs reaching 81.6% of the March 2019 level.

“This — the surge in international traffic– was led by a near-tripling of demand for Asia-Pacific carriers as China’s re-opening took hold,” Walsh said.

Asia-Pacific continued to post the strongest annual hike among other regions, up 158.9% year-on-year in March.

Nearing its pre-pandemic levels for months, domestic air traffic rose 34.1% compared to a year ago, reaching at 98.9% of the March 2019 level.

Separate IATA data showed global demand for air cargo, measured in cargo ton-kilometers, dropped 7.7% annually.

March performance slipped back into negative territory compared to pre-COVID levels, down 8.1%, the IATA added.

Capacity – measured in available cargo ton-kilometers – rose 9.9% compared to last March.

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