Effects of Covid-19 Pandemic on Air Traffic



The 2020 is the worst year in the history of air transport according to the IATA (International Air Transport Association). A drop in global passenger traffic by -65.9% compared to 2019, with -75.6 % for international flights and -48.8% for domestic ones. “Last year was a catastrophe”, says Alexandre de Juniac, director general of IATA: “the timid recovery that took place in the northern hemisphere during the summer did nothing against the new autumn stop and the almost total absence of passengers during the Christmas holidays ».

The greatest collapse of ari traffic was registered Asia, with -80.3% compared to 2019 and -94.7% during the month of December due to generalized lockdowns. In 2020 air traffic in Europe fell by -73.7% compared to 2019, and by -82.3% in December.

MAYDAY! To make matters worse, the fact that there is still no light at the end of the tunnel: IATA predicts that 2021 will be another disastrous year for airlines, after a January in which bookings have dropped by 70% compared to the same period in 2020. Passengers face a series of uncoordinated and rapidly changing global restrictions, explains de Juniac, who calls on governments to help the sector.

The graph illustrates the global trend in passenger air traffic, calculated using the RPK (passenger revenue kilometers, a value that indicates the number of passengers transported for each kilometer flown) as the unit of measurement, compared to 2019. The blue dotted line shows the most optimistic forecasts for 2021, while the red one predicts the trend influenced by the spread of the new variants of the coronavirus.

WILL IT GET WORSE? If the most optimistic forecasts for 2021 indicate a return to about half of the pre-pandemic air traffic levels, with the spread of the new variants of the coronavirus, the risk is that the recovery will be slower, and that it will only be possible to reach 38% of the 2019 . “With the start of the vaccination campaign we were optimistic, we hoped that normalcy could soon be restored to air travel”, says de Juniac, “but this optimism soon vanished with the spread of the new variants of the coronavirus and the consequent resurgence of infections. ”

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