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Flight movement rebounds despite low patronage

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More commercial flights have taken to the airspace lately, recording the highest toll since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though passenger patronage is still at its post-pandemic low, global flight radar recently tracked an average of 77, 708 flights per week – the highest in the last year.

According to global flight tracking service, Flightradar24, the seven-day rolling average of the number of flights hit the highest flights in both passenger and freight, a number which exceeded the previous peak during the Christmas holidays since COVID-19 started spreading.

Higher numbers of flights in the major markets—the United States and China—were behind the increase, according to the report.

The rising number of air movements could help global aviation fuel demand, which has been hit the hardest by the pandemic with international flight restrictions and quarantines.

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In the United States, the number of air travellers in a day exceeded 1.5 million at the end of March, for the first time since mid-March 2020, in a good sign for oil demand as U.S. citizens start travelling more.

Travel and consumption patterns in the world’s top oil consumer, the United States, and in the world’s top oil importer, China, point to recovering demand for petroleum products. Those two countries – major consumers of crude – could lead global oil demand out of the woods and lead the global consumption rebound later this year.

Chief Operating Officer at CITA Petroleum, a Jet-A1 supplier at Lagos Airport, Olasimbo Betiku, said the airlines mirror the pandemic realities and the slow restart of air travel.

“It is an industry that is still trying to come back, with everyone doing the best. I know certain routes that some major local airlines would do at least seven frequencies daily in the past. Now, it is thrice daily. We are not yet operating at optimum capacity, though we are making progress,” Betiku said.

Recall that the passenger traffic demand declined by 74.7 per cent globally in February 2021, as countries mount various travel restrictions to check coronavirus new variants.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in the latest figures released recently, said the decline, compared to pre-COVID February 2019, was worse than the 72.2 per cent slump recorded in January 2021.

IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, said February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel.

“Most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants. An important exception was the Australian domestic market. A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel. This tells us that people have not lost their desire to travel. They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures,” Walsh said.

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