IATA report: Passenger demand down 92% in July

Published September 8, 2020, 5:00 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

With airlines mostly grounded for  half a year, passenger demand in July collapsed 91.9% versus 2019 levels, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Capacity plummeted 85.2%, and load factor sank 38.9 percentage points to 46.4%.

“The crisis in demand continued with little respite in July. With essentially four in five air travelers staying home, the industry remains largely paralyzed,”  according to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Governments reopening and then closing borders or removing and then re-imposing quarantines does not give many consumers confidence to make travel plans, nor airlines to rebuild schedules,” he stressed.

Asia-Pacific airlines’ July traffic dived 96.5% compared to the year-ago period, virtually unchanged from a 97.1% drop in June, and the steepest contraction among regions. 

Capacity fell 91.7% and load factor shrank 47.3 percentage points to 35.3%.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 93.3% traffic decline for July, compared with a 96.1% demand drop in June. 

Capacity tumbled 85.6%, and load factor sank 43.4 percentage points to 38.0%.

North American carriers saw a 94.5% traffic decline in July, a slight uptick from a 97.1% decline in June. 

Capacity fell 86.1%, and load factor dropped 53.0 percentage points to 35.0%, second lowest among regions.

Latin American airlines experienced a 95.0% demand drop in July, compared to the same month last year, versus a 96.6% drop in June. 

Capacity fell 92.6% and load factor sank 27.1 percentage points to 58.4%, highest among the regions.

European carriers’ July demand toppled 87.1% compared to last year, improved from a 96.7% drop in June, year-over-year, reflecting relaxation of travel restrictions in the Schengen Area. 

Capacity dropped 79.2% and load factor fell by 33.8 percentage points to 55.1%.

African airlines’ traffic dropped 94.6% in July, somewhat improved from a 97.8% contraction in June. 

Capacity contracted 84.6%, and load factor fell 47.1 percentage points to 25.4%, which was the lowest among regions.

On the other hand, domestic traffic fell 57.5% in July. This was an improvement compared to a 68% decline in June. 

Domestic capacity fell 42.2% and load factor dropped 22.9 percentage points to 63.3%.

China’s carriers’ traffic was down 28.4% compared to July 2019. 

Recovery had slowed modestly in June amid new virus outbreaks but resumed its pace from mid-July.

Russian airlines’ domestic traffic was down 17.7% in July, dramatically improved compared with 58% decline in June. 

Demand has been supported by low domestic fares and a boom in domestic tourism.

Meanwhile, with so many passenger aircraft parked under lockdown, airlines lost over 70 percent belly cargo space and global air freight demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), fell 13.5 percent this July (-15.5% for international operations) versus the same period year.

This was according to the latest  International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.

“Economic indicators are improving, but we have not yet seen that fully reflected in growing air cargo shipments,” de Juniac said.

Overall, “Air cargo is much stronger than the passenger side of the business. And one of our biggest challenges remains accommodating demand with severely reduced capacity,” he explained.

“If borders remain closed, travel curtailed and passenger fleets grounded, the ability of air cargo to keep the global economy moving will be challenged,” de Juniac warned.

Global air cargo demand remained stable but at lower levels than 2019.

While the industry showed some month-to-month improvement, it was at a slower pace due to the

airlines’ capacity constraint.