The Latin American & Caribbean region continues to have the strongest traffic recovery globally. In November 2022, 29.2 million passengers were carried in the region, 97% of the same period in 2019, said the Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA). 

A strong recovery

Globally, no other region has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic as faster as Latin America & the Caribbean. Led by countries such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Mexico, cumulatively, nearly 298 million passengers were carried from January to November, just 9.9% below their 2019 levels, said ALTA in a study. 

In November alone, the recovery was 97% of 2019 passenger levels, reflecting significant progress in the recovery path compared to October, when 92% of 2019 levels were reached. The traffic figures in the region exceeded those of North America in November, which was at 92% of its 2019 levels, the Middle East at 88%, Europe at 81%, Africa at 80%, and Southeast Asia, the region with the minor recovery at 74%. 

The boom of the ultra-low-cost business model has undoubtedly fueled Latin America’s rally, with several carriers, such as Volaris and Viva Aerobus, posting strong numbers. Other airlines that have fully rebounded in traffic numbers are Aeromexico and Brazil’s Azul. 

In terms of international passenger traffic, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Mexico were at the forefront of the recovery in the region, with growths of 22%, 17%, and 11%, respectively. Domestically, Colombia and Mexico also outperformed their pre-pandemic traffic levels with 13% growth each. 

Argentina, Chile, and Peru bounce back

In November, the region also saw a strong traffic performance by Argentina, Chile, and Peru. These three countries remained behind in the recovery due to imposed travel restrictions that lingered far beyond any of their neighbors. Domestically, Argentina had a 97% recovery in November, followed by Chile with a 96% recovery. Peru had a 4% growth versus 2019, although it remains to be seen if the political unrest in the country damaged the recovery. Internationally, these countries had 78%, 89%, and 74% recoveries, respectively. 

The capacities in the region, measured by available seats per kilometer, had also outperformed their pre-pandemic levels. In December 2022, the region had over 40 million seats available, a 2.5% growth versus 2019. 

Some challenges remain

Nonetheless, challenges remain, and ALTA believes we could see a potential drop in demand for air transport services in 2023. The year will be marked by the global economic recession and other factors. 

For instance, the increase in prices for daily products could lead people to allocate resources that may be used to travel to other things. José Ricardo Botelho, Executive Director and CEO of ALTA, said, 

“2023 has its challenges. The potential drop in demand for air transport services originated from an economic recession, mixed with economic challenges for the operation, especially inflation, devaluation, and high costs, which may be barriers to the recovery of this industry that in 2022 lost US$ 2 billion in Latin America & the Caribbean.”

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Daniel Martínez Garbuno is a Mexican journalist. He has specialized in the air industry working mainly for A21, a Mexican media outlet focused entirely on the aviation world. He has also published on other sites like Simple Flying, Roads & Kingdoms, Proceso, El Economista, Buzos de la Noticia, Contenido, and Notimex.

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