The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the air passenger traffic growth in the Philippines in the last eight years, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board.
Data from CAB showed that domestic passenger traffic reached 5.53 million in 2021, or 1.35 percent lower than 6.89 million in 2020.
It said the domestic passenger traffic in the last eight years grew at an average of 6 percent annually. In 2019, the domestic passenger traffic reached 29.53 million, higher than 27.28 million domestic passengers in 2018.
Cebu Pacific carried the most number of domestic passengers last year with 2.68 million, down from 3.14 million domestic passengers in 2020.
This was followed by PAL Express with 1.35 million domestic passengers, compared to 1.44 million passengers in 2020.
AirAsia Philippines ranked third with 713,409 domestic passengers, followed by Philippine Airlines with 494,759 passengers and Cebgo with 257,378 passengers.
International passenger traffic also fell sharply from 6.24 million in 2020 to 2.19 million passengers in 2021.
Prior to global pandemic, international passenger traffic reached 30.52 million in 2019, up from 26.85 million in 2018.
Domestic carriers carried 925,007 international passengers, while foreign carriers flew 1.26 million passengers last year.
Philippine Airlines served 786,001 international passenger, lower than 1.75 million passengers in 2020.
This was followed by Cebu Pacific with 115,909 international passengers, down from 906,665 passengers a year ago, and Air Asia Philippines with 11,843 international passengers, also down from 381,018 passengers in 2020.
Willie Walsh,, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said the momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing as air travel restrictions are lifted around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden.
“Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets. And that is good news. Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions,” he said.
“While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and Italy,” Walsh said.
He said travel restrictions had a severe impact on people and on economies.
“They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. This means putting a stop to the singling out of the traveling population for special measures,”Walsh said
“In nearly all cases, travelers don’t bring any more risk to a market than is already there. Many governments have recognized this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow,” he said.