Air travel demand showing signs of recovery: Iata

Demand for air services is beginning to recover after hitting bottom in April, says International Air Transport Association (Iata). 


Passenger demand in April (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), plunged 94.3 per cent compared to April 2019, as the Covid-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down domestic and international air travel. This is a rate of decline never seen in the history of Iata’s traffic series, which dates back to 1990. 


More recently, figures show that daily flight totals rose 30 per cent between the low point on April 21 and May 27. This is primarily in domestic operations and off of a very low base (5.7 per cent of 2019 demand). While this uptick is not significant to the global dimension of the air transport industry, it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence. In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of re-establishing connectivity.  


Looking at international passenger markets Middle Eastern airlines posted a 97.3 per cent traffic contraction for April, compared with a 50.3 per cent demand drop in March, figures showed.


Capacity collapsed 92.3 per cent, and load factor crumbled to 27.9 per cent, down 52.9 per cent percentage points compared to the year ago period.


Globally, April international passenger demand collapsed 98.4 per cent compared to April 2019, a deterioration from the 58.1 per cent decline recorded in March. European carriers were the hardest hit in April, with demand toppling 99.0 per cent. Capacity fell 95.1 per cent, and load factor plunged 55.3 percentage points to 27.5 per cent.


Demand for domestic travel fell 86.9 per cent in April, with the steepest declines registered in Australia (down 96.8 per cent), Brazil (down 93.1 per cent) and the US (down 95.7 per cent). This was a sharp deterioration compared to a 51.0 per cent decline in March. Domestic capacity fell 72.1 per cent and load factor dropped 44.3 percentage points to 39.5 per cent.


“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time—possibly years—to mature,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s Director General and CEO.


Iata calculated that by the first week of April, governments in 75 per cent of the markets tracked by Iata completely banned entry, while an additional 19 per cent had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals. The initial flight increases have been concentrated in domestic markets. Data from late May shows that flight levels in Republic of Korea, China and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22-28 per cent lower than a year earlier . Searches for air travel on Google also were up 25 per cent by the end of May compared to the April low, although that’s a rise from a very low base and still 60 per cent lower than at the start of the year.  - TradeArabia News Service




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