Global air traffic is recovering from the pandemic induced lows of 2020, but the health of the aviation industry varies widely by region and airline. We’re taking a look at the first six months of 2021 to see how global commercial and total traffic has increased and how far away it still is from pre-pandemic levels.

2019-2021 Total and Commercial Flights

Commercial flights

2019-2021 Commercial Flights

In the first six months of 2021, we tracked 13,365,779 commercial flights. That is 11% above 2020 levels, but still down 33.8% from 2019.


Commercial flights tracked 1 January – 30 June

2019: 20,181,129 | 2020: 12,027,494 | 2021: 13,365,779


Commercial flights were helped by strong recovery in the United States and initially China as well. However, about mid-May COVID variants began reducing traffic flows in China, as well as continuing to hold back recovery elsewhere.

Departures from China’s 10 busiest airport (pre-pandemic measure) for 2020-2021Total flights

Total Flights May 2016-June 2020Total flights are recovering faster than commercial flights with 28,957,911 total flights tracked in the first half of 2021, a 25.2% increase over 2020. Totals flights so far in 2021 are only down 11% from the first half of 2019.


Total flights tracked 1 January – 30 June

2019: 32,849,613 | 2020: 23,129,766 | 2021: 28,957,911


Vaccination levels and the easing of government restrictions are working positively for the aviation industry, while the spread of variants of concern will continue to dampen the recovery. We’ll continue to watch for signs of recovery wherever they may be.


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