How did flights and mobility behave in these 5 Global South countries?

May 13, 2021

The world came to a complete stop in March 2020. Strict quarantines, closed shops, and grounded national and international flights. Humanitarian flights were set up for several weeks allowing those who were away from home to fly to their destinations. Slowly, the situation has been normalized. However the number of flights has been drastically reduced worldwide.

The Centre’s “Internal and external mobility during COVID-19”  dashboard trackshow mobility and how air travel changed and behaved during the pandemic. The dashboard includes the internal mobility of the 5 countries’s residents, and international  airport departures. 

Between February 9, 2020 to March 28, 2021, how many flights were allowed per day in these 5 countries? 

Between February 9, 2020 to March 28, 2021, countries have repeatedly opened and closed their airports. Let’s check out the behavior of  domestic and international flight departures from Malaysia, Argentina, Peru, Indonesia, and South Africa.


Malaysian domestic and international flights have not been restricted since the start of the pandemic.

February 16, 2020 saw 1,981 flights. This is a significant number compared to the only 233 flights a bit over a month later on March 22, 2020. 

Between February 9, 2020 and March 28, 2021,  the largest number of flights in Malaysia were domestic..

During this 13-month period, the day with the fewest flights registered a total of 47.InMarch, 2021, more flights have been taking off and up to 981 flights have been recorded in just one day.

Regarding International travel, the main destination was Singapore. Australia, Taiwan, India and the United Arab Emirates were also on the frequent destinations list. 


The cancellation of domestic and international flights occurred quickly in Argentina. On February 16, 2020, there were 491 flights and in just a few days, on March 22, 2020, the flight departures dropped drastically to 23. 

During a 13-month period,  the most frequent destination was Brazil, while the second destination was domestic. Other destinations with the highest number of flights were the United States, Spain, Italy, France, Canada and Bolivia. 


Peru is one of the countries with the greatest variation in the number of domestic and international flights. Between February 2020 and March 2021, the amount of flights has varied dramatically depending on national and/or international security measures 

Graph INSERT NUMBER shows that flights have hardly been restricted during the pandemic in 2020, days like August 2, (49 flights), September 6, (45 flights) and November 1, (55 flights) show that mobility didn’t stop. Most of the flights were  domestic with international destinations like Brazil, Colombia, United States and Bolivia on the list. 


In Indonesia flights drastically reduced from June 21, 2020, where 116 flights were registered, and on July 26, 2020, just 3 flights were registered. Since the pandemic started, the day with the most registered flights was January 10, 2021 with 273 flights.

From February 9, 2020, to March 28, 2021, the majority were domestic flights. International destinations  were Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. 

South Africa

According to the data from February 9, 2020, to March 28, 2021,flights departing from South Africareached all parts of the world, especially Europe. 

As of November 29, 2020, 874 flights took off, meaning that daily flights began to increase compared to months before. Domestic flights, which accounted for the majority of departures, the main destinations were United Arab Emirates, Netherlands and France. 


  • In the countries reviewed, there were more domestic flights than international flights. This may be due to the heavy restrictions and security measures restricting international travel.
  • Flights have been drastically reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, we see a ray of hope in 2021 as  the number of flights is slowly increasing.