2020 was worst year ever for air travel demand: IATA

2021-02-03 16:39:30

NEW DELHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday said the pandemic saw demand plunge by 65.9% in the year 2020 as compared to that of its previous year. It noted that this was “by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history.”
Its data shows domestic air travel fell 48.8% globally in 2020 over 2019, with Australia seeing the maximum fall followed by US at 59.6% and then India at 55.6%.
IATA DG & CEO Alexandre de Juniac 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.”
The global body that represents just less than 300 airlines comprising 82% of global air traffic says “forward bookings have been falling sharply since late December.”
International passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6% below 2019 levels. Domestic demand in 2020 was down 48.8% compared to 2019.
Bookings for future travel made in January 2021 were down 70% 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% improvement on 2020 demand that would bring the industry to 50.6% 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% over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38% of 2019 levels,” IATA said in a statement.
“Optimism that the arrival and initial distribution of vaccines would lead to a prompt and orderly restoration in global air travel have been dashed in the face of new outbreaks and new mutations of the disease. The world is more locked down today than at virtually any point in the past 12 months and passengers face a bewildering array of rapidly changing and globally uncoordinated travel restrictions,” de Juniac said.
“We urge governments to work with industry to develop the standards for vaccination, testing, and validation that will enable governments to have confidence that borders can reopen and international air travel can resume once the virus threat has been neutralized. The IATA Travel Pass will help this process, by providing passengers with an App to easily and securely manage their travel in line with any government requirements for Covid-19 testing or vaccine information. In the meantime, the airline industry will require continued financial support from governments in order to remain viable,” de Juniac added.

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