Demand for air travel fell by 56% in August compared to the same month in 2019 and is a slowdown from the 53% recorded in July.
The drop is mainly due to restrictions imposed by Governments because of the Delta variant, according to the International Air Transport Association, or IATA.
The largest decline in August was in international passenger demand, which fell 68.8% compared to 2019, but is still slightly better than the 73.1% decline in July 2021.
Nationwide, demand decreased by 32.2% compared to August 2019, which is a significant drop from the 16.1% traffic decrease reported in July.
“The August results reflect the impact of the Delta variant on domestic travel, while international travel continues to move slowly towards a full recovery, which cannot to happen until governments restore freedom to travel,” said IATA Director-General, Willie Walsh, who described America’s decision to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers in November as "very good news that will bring certainty to a key market.”
But he also stressed that there are challenges ahead and said reservations for September indicate a further deterioration in international recovery.
"It's bad news for the traditionally slower 4th quarter," he said.
International air traffic at Asia-Pacific airlines fell 93.4% compared to August 2019; capacity decreased by 85.7% and occupancy decreased by 44.9 percentage points to 37.9%.
At European operators it decreased by 55.9% compared to August 2019; capacity was down by 45% and occupancy fell to 71.5%.
At Middle East airlines there was a drop in international traffic of 69.3%. US airlines fell 59% and Latin American airlines slumped by 63.1%.
Airline traffic at African operators fell by 58.5% in August compared to 2019, but that's an improvement on the 60.4% decrease recorded in July.
Demand for air cargo increased by 7.7% in August compared to the same month in 2019, but global capacity fell by 12.2%.
US airlines saw an 18.8% increase in air cargo in August 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
At Middle East airlines there was an 11.3% increase in demand.
Asia-Pacific airlines reported a 15.4% increase and Latin American airlines recorded a dip of 14%.
European Airlines witnessed growth of just 6%, which is similar to July and was driven by manufacturing activity, orders and slow deliveries from suppliers.
“August was another strong month for global air cargo demand and economic indicators point to a strong high end-of-year season, said Walsh. "With international travel still severely depressed, there are fewer passenger planes that offer cargo capacity.”