IATA figures show passenger traffic recovery is slow

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The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest figures show that the recovery of passenger demand continued to be disappointingly slow in October.

Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs) was down 70.6% compared with October 2019. This was just a modest improvement from the 72.2% year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was down 59.9% compared with a year ago and load factor fell 21.8% to 60.2%.

International passenger demand in October was down 87.8% compared to October 2019, virtually unchanged from the 88.0% year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was 76.9% below previous year levels, and load factor shrank 38.3% to 42.9%.

Domestic demand drove what little recovery there was, with October domestic traffic down 40.8% compared to the prior year. This was improved from a 43.0% year-to-year decline in September. Capacity was 29.7% below 2019 levels and the load factor dropped 13.2% to 70.4%.

“Fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 and governments’ continued reliance on heavy-handed quarantines resulted in another catastrophic month for air travel demand. While the pace of recovery is faster in some regions than others, the overall picture for international travel is grim. This uneven recovery is more pronounced in domestic markets, with China’s domestic market having nearly recovered, while most others remain deeply depressed,” noted Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“This crisis is unrelenting. Our latest economic outlook is for airlines to lose US$118.5bn this year, or US$66 (€53.60) for every passenger carried. Assuming borders re-open by mid-2021, the industry will ‘only’ lose US$38.7bn in 2021. Now is the time for governments to step up. The US$173bn of support provided to date has enabled the industry to survive, but more is required to carry the industry through to next summer. IATA has identified a range of market stimulation options that will support the viability of air routes while encouraging people to travel. Without aviation’s US$3.5tn contribution to global GDP, there can be no broader economic recovery,” concluded de Juniac.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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