Mon, 06 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

2020 worst year in history for air travel demand

4 February 2021 09:11 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Int’l passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6% below 2019 levels
  • Bookings for future travel made in Jan. 2021 down 70% YoY

ransport Association (IATA) yesterday announced the full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020, showing that the demand (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) fell by 65.9 percent compared to the full year of 2019, by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history. 


Furthermore, forward bookings have been falling sharply since late December.International passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6 percent below 2019 levels. Capacity, (measured in available seat kilometres or ASKs) declined 68.1 percent and load factor fell 19.2 percentage points to 62.8 percent.


Domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8 percent compared to 2019. Capacity contracted by 35.7 percent and load factor dropped 17 percentage points to 
66.6 percent.


December 2020 total traffic was 69.7 percent below the same month in 2019, little improved from the 70.4 percent contraction in November. Capacity was down 56.7 percent and load factor fell 24.6 percentage points to 57.5 percent.


Bookings for future travel made in January 2021 were down 70 percent compared to a year ago, putting further pressure on airline cash positions and potentially impacting the timing of the expected recovery.


IATA’s baseline forecast for 2021 is for a 50.4 percent improvement on 2020 demand that would bring the industry to 6 percent of 2019 levels. While this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new 
variants persist. 


Should such a scenario materialise, demand improvement could be limited to just 13 percent over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38 percent of 2019 levels, IATA said.


“Last year was a catastrophe. There is no other way to describe it. What recovery there was over the northern hemisphere summer season stalled in autumn and the situation turned dramatically worse over the year-end holiday season, as more severe travel restrictions were imposed in the face of new outbreaks and new strains of COVID-19,” IATA Director General/CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.


Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific airlines’ full-year traffic plunged 80.3 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, which was the deepest decline for any region. It fell 94.7 percent in the month of December amid stricter lockdowns, little changed from a 95 percent decline in November. Full-year capacity was down 74.1 percent compared to 2019. Load factor fell 19.5 percentage points to 61.4 percent.

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