The Air Transport Monthly Monitor for November 2022

The numbers that are shared in the article below reflect the figures from September 2022. The analysis of the economic and aviation indicators we share here reflect the continuing impact of COVID-19 on this industry through aviation's recovery.

The air transport industry is not only a vital engine of global socio-economic growth, but it is also of vital importance as a catalyst for economic development. Not only does the industry create direct and indirect employment and support tourism and local businesses, but it also stimulates foreign investment and international trade.

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  • make better projections;
  • control costs and risks;
  • improve business valuations; and
  • benchmark performance.

The UN recognized ICAO as the central agency responsible for the collection, analysis, publication, standardization, improvement, and dissemination of statistics pertaining to civil aviation. Because of its status as a UN-specialized agency, ICAO remains independent from outside influences and is committed to consistently offering comprehensive and objective data. Every month ICAO produces this Air Transport Monitor, a monthly snapshot and analysis of the economic and aviation indicators.


World Results and Analyses for September 2022

Total Scheduled Services (Domestic and International)

Passenger traffic

Revenue Passenger-Kilometres   –   RPK

World passenger traffic in September 2022 was -26.2% below the 2019 level, +0.1 percentage point up from the decline in the previous month. The momentum of air travel recovery appeared stable in a traditionally low travel season compared to the summer peak. Three regions (North America, the Middle East, and Africa) posted an acceleration in growth, with the former recording a solid pick-up and becoming the top-performing region. The domestic market of North America demonstrated the most resilience and exceeded the pre-pandemic level.

International Traffic vs. Tourist Arrivals

International passenger numbers in September 2022 were -27.4% below the 2019 level, +0.9 percentage point up from the decline in the previous month. All regions, except for Europe, posted improvements in recovery. The recovery in international tourist arrivals followed a similar trend as international passenger traffic.


Available Seat-Kilometres   –   ASK

Capacity worldwide in September 2022 was -25.9% below the 2019 level, -3.1 percentage points down from the decline in the previous month (-22.8%). As air travel recovery continues, capacity offered in October is expected to improve to -24.7% below the 2019 level.

Load Factor 

The passenger Load Factor reached 81.6% in September 2022, -0.2 percentage points below the previous month. With the continued improvement, the load factor in September has recovered to -0.3 percentage points below the level seen in the same month of 2019.

Cargo Traffic

Cargo (Freight) Tonne-Kilometres  – CTK

World cargo traffic in September 2022 was -3.6% below the 2019 level, -0.7 percentage point down from the decline in the previous month. Air cargo demand continued to soften facing various headwinds such as the high-interest rates, rising inflation, reduced consumer online spending as well as weak international export demand. Performance diverged across regions. In particular, Africa and North America continued to outperform other regions and achieved double-digit growth over the pre-pandemic levels. Both regions have also shown improvements compared to the previous month, while cargo traffic of the other regions posted slight deterioration and remained below the pre-pandemic level.

Top 15 Airports (Ranked by aircraft departures, passengers, and volume of freight)

Note: Figures include total scheduled and non-scheduled services

September 20229.9%, -10.8%, and +7.9% (vs. 2019) in terms of aircraft movements, passengers, and freight for the Top 15

In terms of aircraft movements, the Top 15 airports reported a combined fall of -9.7% compared to 2019. Eleven out of the Top 15 airports were US airports. Chicago remained 1st, with a decline of -22.5%. For the second consecutive month, three airports posted increases, i.e., Las Vegas, Istanbul, and Miami, with the former recording a robust growth of +25.4%.

In terms of passengers, the Top 15 airports posted a total fall of -15.3%, compared to 2019. The Top 15 list was dominated by airports in the US and Europe. Atlanta remained 1st with a decline of -17.1%. Frankfurt recorded the largest contraction of -27.4%, followed by Los Angeles (-25.2%). Istanbul was the only airport within the Top 15 recording a positive growth, at 5.4%.

In terms of freight, the Top 15 airports reported an increase of +7.9% compared to 2019. Seven of the Top 15 airports posted double-digital growth. Cincinnati recorded the most significant growth at +102.4%, followed by Miami at +27.5%. Hong Kong outstripped Memphis and became 1st, however it recorded the largest fall of -14.6%.

Top 15 Airline Groups (Ranked by RPK)

September 202217.4% (vs. 2019) in terms of RPK for the Top 15

In terms of RPK, the Top 15 airline groups accounted for 53.0% of the world’s total RPK in September 2022 and declined by –17.4% compared to 2019This decline was 8.8 percentage points smaller than the fall in the world’s average RPK.

The US airlines retained the Top 3 positions, with American at 1st, followed by United and Delta. Southwest maintained the 9th place and recorded positive growth over the pre-pandemic traffic level.

The performance of airlines in Europe was stable compared to the previous month. Lufthansa, IAG and AF-KLM kept the same positions at 4th, 5th, and 6th, respectively. Ryanair and Turkish Airlines maintained the same positions and continued to post positive growth.

Two Middle Eastern airlines, Emirates and Qatar, continued to recover steadily and maintained the same positions at 8th and 11th.

China Southern dropped two positions to 14th with a deteriorated decline at -64.6%. Singapore Airlines improved one position to 13th, while LATAM remained at the 15th.

Capacity by Region

September 2022: -25.9% (vs. 2019) in terms of World ASK

Worldwide capacity contracted by -25.9% in September 2022, compared to 2019. Performance has been mixed among the regions. Whereas North America and Africa posted improvements, the other regions showed a recovery slowdown in capacity. Asia/Pacific recorded the largest contraction from the pre-pandemic level, followed by Africa and the Middle East.

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Acronyms: ACI: Airports Council International; ASK: Available Seat-Kilometres; IATA: International Air Transport Association; FTK: Freight Tonne-Kilometres; LF: Passenger Load Factor; OAG: Official Airline Guide; RPK: Revenue Passenger-Kilometres; UNWTO: World Tourism Organization; YoY: Year-on-year; YTD: Year-to-date.


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