Blog Post


Air Travel Statistics in 2021: How the Aviation Industry Has Changed 

Air Travel Statistics in 2021: How the Aviation Industry Has Changed

The COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, shaking up industries and businesses across all sectors. One of the industries that’s been hardest hit is the travel industry, particularly with airlines. Many countries have closed their borders, and people have stayed home rather than risk spreading the disease faster.

So what do the numbers look like for the aviation industry? Read on for your guide to the air travel statistics for 2021 and how they match up against previous years!

What Do the Air Travel Statistics in 2021 Look Like?

In general: bad but doing better. Air travel was severely impacted by COVID, particularly as governments shut their borders to travelers. In addition, it’s becoming more expensive to fly and maintain planes, which has led to an increase in ticket costs.

Total travel is often measured in Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKs) and Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs). These values are typically compared with previous years in the form of percentages. For example, 2021 is frequently compared with 2020 and 2019 to see how it matches up with the first year of the pandemic and the last year before the pandemic.

Here’s a look at how the aviation industry has changed in 2021 compared to the previous COVID-19 aviation industry years.

2021 Compared With 2019

2019 was the last year before COVID-19 hit, and so reflects the aviation industry’s last year of normality. Unfortunately, the travel industry still has a long way to go to catch up to these previous normal levels. All of the following values come from the International Air Transport Association’s air passenger market analysis

Overall, 2021’s RPK numbers were 58.4% less than they were in 2019. That means the industry lost more than half of its numbers worldwide! The Middle East was hit the hardest, losing almost 70% of its numbers year on end.

Likewise, the ASK numbers were almost as bad, at 48.8% less than where they had been in 2019. The Asia Pacific region was hit the hardest here, losing a little more than 50%. Its losses were nearly matched by Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

2021 Compared With 2020

Thankfully, air travel in 2021 improved a good bit over 2020. Vaccines were developed, governments relaxed restrictions, and people started to travel again.

Worldwide, the RPK in 2021 improved 79.5% over the RPK in 2020. The largest change was in Europe, which saw a 177.5% increase over the previous year. 

Likewise, ASK also improved last year. 2021 saw a 45.5% increase over 2020. Here too, Europe led the world with the largest year-over-year increase.

What Will the Future Look Like?

With all of these losses, the airline industry has been working hard to stay afloat. Two things seem likely to help: improving travel numbers in the coming years, and better cost-effectiveness. 

Airline manufacturers and companies hope the industry will be able to return to normal by 2024. However, the war in Ukraine has shaken things up globally yet again, and this may push things back even more. Russia has been a supplier of energy and raw materials to a wide variety of industries, and cutting off that source may hurt them more now.

Because of this, the airline industry is adopting new techniques for maintenance, software, and planning to help them cut costs. Companies like IFS are helping the industry adopt new methods of analyzing and reacting to this changing world. That’s why many airlines are using IFS ERP for aerospace industry management.

Learn More About the Travel Industry!

Overall, the air travel statistics in 2021 weren’t great, but they’re better than they have been. Hopefully, the airline industry will continue to recover, letting more people go where they want to go all over the world.

And if you’d like to learn more about airlines or just travel in general, be sure to check out the rest of our blog! We have plenty more informative articles on a wide variety of topics, just waiting for you to go and read them.

Related posts