March 2021 looked very different than March 2020 for commercial air traffic. In the middle of March last year the bottom fell out on the aviation industry as COVID-19 spread and countries rushed to close their borders. At the beginning of March 2020, the seven-day average of global commercial flights was 103,397, but by the end of the month had fallen to 40,332. As we end March 2021, that figure is back up to 77,708, crossing the previous high set in late December 2020 because of Christmas travel.
Commercial traffic down 31.5% from 2019 levels
Commercial traffic resumed its rise in March after two months of pullback. Comparing to March 2019, flights were down 31.5% in March 2021, an improvement over the 38.5% below 2019 levels in February. At the lowest point in April 2020, commercial traffic was down 73.7%.
Total global flights only down 10% from 2019 in March
Comparing March 2021 to March 2019, total global flights were only down in 10% this year. Non-commercial traffic fell much faster in March 2020 as general aviation was most immediately impacted by lock downs and business closures, and have rebounded strongly as businesses have reopened.