Global travel numbers are rising fast, finally


Air travel rose to 94% of 2019 levels in 2023, according to IATA. — AFP

Air travel took another major leap in 2023, rising to 94% of the 2019 levels as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, the main global airline body, International Air Transport Association (IATA), said recently.

IATA also said domestic travel in key markets such as China, India and the United States had led the rebound but it expected a “normal” growth rate in 2024.

Based on revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), travel in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone was 98.4% of where it was four years earlier, IATA said.

Lockdowns and border closures starting in March 2020 “devastated the airline industry”, with travel for the full year falling to 34.2% of 2019 levels. Recovery was slow, rising to 41.6% in 2021 and 68.5% in 2022.

IATA said national travel was recovering faster than international flights.

Domestic flights reached 104% of their 2019 RPK, driven by an end to travel restrictions in China, where travel rose 139% from the previous year.

There was also strong growth in domestic travel in India and the US.

International travel has been slower to recover, rising last year to 88.6% of 2019 levels.

Flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region were at 72.7% of 2019’s numbers, while to and from Europe were 93% and North America at 101.4%.

IATA represents 320 airlines accounting for 83% of the world’s travel.

The Elysian E9X could one day carry 90 passengers over a distance of 1,000km. — AFPThe Elysian E9X could one day carry 90 passengers over a distance of 1,000km. — AFP

Electric plane

In a separate report, a Dutch startup plans to fly an all-electric airliner capable of carrying up to 90 passengers over distances of up to 1,000km. Reports say that the company plans to do this in not more than 10 years.

This project, the most ambitious of its kind, represents quite the technological challenge.

Elysian Aircraft aims to play a major role in the future of aviation.

The startup even intends to one day compete with aeronautical giants Boeing and Airbus, firm in the belief that electric aircraft represent the future of air transport.

To overcome the problem of batteries that are not powerful enough to cover long distances, the startup has developed an original new design, aimed at reducing energy consumption to a minimum.

For its first aircraft, the E9X, this means using a lightweight composite fuselage to reduce weight as much as possible, thereby increasing range.

But the most striking feature of the first images of the startup’s prototype are its eight propellers (four on each wing), powered by the same number of electric motors.

The startup is already planning a first test flight of the E9X by 2025. On paper, it has been designed to accommodate up to 90 passengers and cover a distance of around 800km.

By 2033, when the first commercial flight is scheduled, the startup hopes to reach the symbolic 1,000km mark.

The idea is to make the E9X the first large-capacity electric airliner. By making electric power a credible alternative to kerosene, Elysian’s aim is to actively contribute to the decarbonisation of the airline industry. Today, half of all commercial flights cover a distance of shorter than 1,000km.

As a result, the company claims that electric aviation could potentially reduce air travel’s CO2 emissions by 20%.– AFP Relaxnews

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