(Paris) Passenger air transport has “never been so close” to erasing the effects of the health crisis, recovering in October 98.4% of its 2019 global activity, its main association announced on Tuesday.

The dynamism of attendance, calculated in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK, its acronym in English), one of the sector’s benchmark indices, was mainly driven by domestic flights which grew to 104.8% of the level of before the crisis, underlined the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

It is China, still subject to travel restrictions a year ago to try to curb the transmission of COVID-19, which explains this state of affairs: domestic flights there have experienced “three-digit growth” compared to 2022, Iata said in a press release.

International flights, whose recovery was later after the pandemic, also experienced strong growth in October, of almost 30% year-on-year, reaching 94.4% of the levels of the same month of 2019.

This delay is mainly due to the situation in Asia-Pacific where international routes are still only reaching 80.5% of their pre-pandemic attendance, noted IATA.

Despite everything, with October’s strong results, the airline sector has “never been closer to achieving a full recovery of traffic after the pandemic”, said IATA Director General Willie Walsh. cited in the press release.

According to the latest IATA projections, published in June and supposed to be updated on Wednesday, air transport should almost return in 2023 to the number of passengers before the health crisis, at 4.35 billion compared to 4.54 in 2019.

Globally, companies are expected to post their first profits since the outbreak of COVID-19 this year, at $9.8 billion. They lost some $183 billion cumulatively between 2020 and 2022.