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NEW DELHI : Air travel witnessed a moderate rebound in September 2021 from August driven by a recovery in domestic markets such as China, airline trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has more than 290 global airlines as members, said on Friday.

However, overall international air passenger traffic demand slipped slightly compared to August, it said.

“Total demand for air travel in September 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 53.4% compared to September 2019," IATA said.

“Domestic markets were down 24.3% compared to September 2019, a significant improvement from August 2021, when traffic was down 32.6% versus two years ago. All markets showed improvement with the exception of Japan and Russia, though the latter remained in solid growth territory compared to 2019," it said.

International passenger demand in September was 69.2% below September 2019, fractionally worse than the 68.7% decline recorded in August, IATA said.

Indian airlines fared better in September compared to the previous month, on the back of festive season bookings.

Domestic air passenger traffic saw a 5.45% growth in September. Around 7.07 million passengers took to the skies in during the month, compared to 6.7 million in August, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

“September’s performance is a positive development but recovery in international traffic remains stalled amid continuing border closures and quarantine mandates. The recent US policy change to reopen travel from 33 markets for fully vaccinated foreigners from 8 November is a welcome, if long overdue, development," said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

“Along with recent re-openings in other key markets such as Australia, Argentina, Thailand, and Singapore this should give a boost to the large-scale restoration of the freedom to travel," Walsh said.

Regular international commercial flight operations remain suspended because of the covid-19 pandemic. The Indian government recently extended the ban on international commercial flights at least till 30 November. However, dedicated cargo flights and flights under bilateral air bubble pacts with select countries continue to operate.

India currently has bilateral air bubble agreements with about 28 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

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