Global air traffic grew 67% year-on-year in January, thanks to continuation of the upward trend in travel demand, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Air traffic – measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs – was at 84.2% of its pre-virus level, or 15.8% down from January 2019.
"Air travel demand is off to a very healthy start in 2023," Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Fueled by the lifting of the zero-COVID policy in China, domestic air traffic surged 32.7% from a year ago in January and reached to 97.4% of the January 2019 level.
International air traffic has more than doubled compared to a year earlier with all markets recording strong growth, led by carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.
International RPKs reached 77% of pre-virus level.
Walsh stressed that the rapid removal of COVID-19 restrictions for Chinese domestic and international travel bodes will back the recovery in the sector this year.
"And, importantly, we have not seen the many economic and geopolitical uncertainties of the day dampening demand for travel," said Walsh.