IATA: No relief to passenger downturn

Published November 5, 2020, 10:23 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

Global passenger demand remained highly depressed in September, according to latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Borders remained closed as COVID-19 outbreaks resurged and governments continued to resort to quarantine in the absence of globally aligned testing regimes.

“We have hit a wall in the industry’s recovery,” summed up Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

International passenger demand in September plunged 88.8% compared to the dame period last year, basically unchanged from the 88.5% decline recorded in August.

Capacity plummeted 78.9%, and load factor withered 38.2 percentage points to 43.5%.

Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was 72.8% below September 2019 levels (only slightly improved over the 75.2% year-to-year decline recorded in August).

Domestic demand in September was down 43.3% compared to the previous year, improved from a 50.7% decline in August.

Compared to 2019, capacity fell 33.3% and the load factor dropped 12.4 percentage points to 69.9%.

“Although domestic markets are doing better, this is primarily owing to improvements in China and Russia,” the IATA CEO stressed.

“And domestic traffic represents just a bit more than a third of total traffic, so it is not enough to sustain a general recovery,” he warned.q

Asia-Pacific airlines’ September traffic sank 95.8% compared to the year-ago period, virtually unchanged from a 96.2% drop in August.

The region continued to suffer from the steepest fall in traffic as flight restrictions have remained stringent with little re-opening of borders.

Capacity plummeted 89.6% and load factor shrank 46.8 percentage points to 31.7%, the lowest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 90.2% traffic decline for September, improved from a 92.3% demand drop in August.

Capacity tumbled 78.5%, and load factor sank 40.9 percentage points to 34.4%.

North American carriers saw a 91.3% traffic decline in September, a slight improvement from a 92.0% decline in August.

Capacity toppled 78.3%, and load factor dropped 49.8 percentage points to 33.4%.

Latin American airlines faced a 92.2% demand drop in September, compared to the same month last year, versus a 93.4% decline in August versus August 2019.

Capacity dived 87.9% and load factor dropped 29.3 percentage points to 53.3%, highest among the regions.

European carriers’ September demand collapsed 82.5% versus a year ago, which was a setback compared to an 80.5% decline in August.

Europe was the only region to see a deterioration in traffic compared to August, owing to renewed infections that led to a wave of border closings.

Capacity contracted 70.7% and load factor fell by 35.1 percentage points to 51.8%.

African airlines’ traffic sank 88.5% in September, barely budged from an 88.7% drop in August.

Capacity contracted 74.7%, and load factor fell 39.4 percentage points to 32.6%, which was the second lowest among regions.

To avoid sn economic catastrophe, governments need to align on testing as a way to open borders and enable travel without quarantine, de Juniac reiterated.

Some 4.8 million aviation-sector jobs are imperiled, as are a total of 46 million people in the broader economy whose jobs are supported by aviation.

“A broader economic recovery is only possible through the connectivity provided by aviation,” he concluded.

 
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