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Oil Demand Boosted By Highest Number Of Flights Since COVID Started

The number of commercial flights looks to have hit a post-pandemic high in the past days, outstripping the previous high from Christmas travel and potentially boding well for jet fuel demand going forward.

According to global flight tracking service Flightradar24, as reported by Bloomberg News’ Chief Energy Correspondent Javier Blas, the 7-day rolling average of the number of flights tracked by Flightradar24 hit the highest on Wednesday since the start of the pandemic. Flightradar24 tracked a total of 77,708 flights—both passenger and freight—a number which exceeded the previous peak during the Christmas holidays since COVID started spreading. Higher numbers of flights in the major markets—the United States and China—were behind the increase, according to Bloomberg.

Rising numbers of air travelers could help global aviation fuel demand, which has been hit the hardest by the pandemic with international flight restrictions and quarantines.  

In the United States, the number of air travelers in a day exceeded 1.5 million at the end of March, for the first time since the middle of March 2020, in a good sign for oil demand as U.S. citizens start to travel more, including by plane.

Travel and consumption patterns in the world’s top oil consumer, the United States, and in the world’s top oil importer, China, point to recovering demand for petroleum products. Those two countries—major consumers of crude—could lead global oil demand out of the woods and lead the global consumption rebound later this year.

While air travel could rebound from the record lows of last year, renewed lockdowns in Europe continue to be a concern for forecasters, including the OPEC+ group, whose Joint Technical Committee (JTC) revised down this week its oil demand growth forecast for 2021 by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd). The JTC’s base-case scenario, according to a report Reuters has seen, now forecasts demand growth of 5.6 million bpd, down by 300,000 bpd compared to the previous forecast.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 02 2021 said:
    This will accelerate the return of global oil demand to pre-pandemic level of 101 million barrels a day (mbd) by the middle of 2021 as I have been projecting for the last few months.

    Global demand boost is being spearheaded by the world’s two largest economies: China and the United States. This demand impetus coincides with President Biden’s $2 trillion economic stimulus and China’s projected 8.1% economic growth this year according to the IMF.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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