But it’s not time to break out the champagne. IATA reported that air travel demand in July rose by seven percentage points from June but still is historically bad. How bad? July demand was down 80% from 2019, but that’s better than June, when traffic was down 87%.
As expected, international demand fell hardest and remains depressed. In Europe, international demand was down 87% year-over year; Asia, 97%; the Middle East, 93%; North America, 95%; Latin America, 95%; and Africa, 95%.
There were some signs of life in Europe’s Schengen Area, as Europeans took their summer holidays, but international demand almost everywhere else remains down as business travel has all but evaporated. A patchwork of travel restrictions doesn’t help by making international tourism hard to negotiate. IATA has called on governments to lift quarantines and implement a series of measures to screen passengers in order to boost demand, but quarantines remain in place in many countries around the world.
Domestic air travel demand is better off. In fact, there were two very bright spots in the world: Russia and China. China’s domestic demand was down only 28% in July, compared with 2019. Russia’s domestic demand was down only 17%. By comparison, U.S. domestic demand was off by 73% from 2019.
Separately, United, American, and Delta announced they would stop charging change fees for domestic tickets. Today, Alaska said it, too, will “permanently” drop change fees.