The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that the recovery of passenger demand continued to be disappointingly slow in October amid fears of coronavirus infections across regions.
Total demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), was down 70.6 per cent compared to October 2019. This was just a modest improvement from the 72.2 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was down 59.9 per cent compared to a year ago and load factor fell 21.8 percentage points to 60.2 per cent.
African airlines’ traffic sank 78.6 per cent in October, improved from an 84.9 per cent drop in September and the best performance among the regions. Capacity contracted 67.5 per cent, and load factor fell 23.8 percentage points to 45.5 per cent.
International passenger demand in October was down 87.8 per cent compared to October 2019, virtually unchanged from the 88.0 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was 76.9 per cent below previous year levels, and load factor shrank 38.3 percentage points to 42.9 per cent.
IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 and governments’ continued reliance on heavy-handed quarantines resulted in another catastrophic month for air travel demand.
“While the pace of recovery is faster in some regions than others, the overall picture for international travel is grim. This uneven recovery is more pronounced in domestic markets, with China’s domestic market having nearly recovered, while most others remain deeply depressed,” de Juniac said.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ October traffic collapsed 95.6 per cent compared to the year-ago period, which was unchanged from September. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines. Capacity plummeted 88.5 per cent and load factor sagged 49.4 percentage points to 30.3 per cent, the lowest among regions.
European carriers’ October demand sank 83.0 per cent versus a year ago, worsened from an 81.2 per cent decline in September. For a second consecutive month, Europe was the only region to see deterioration in traffic. Capacity contracted 70.4 per cent and load factor fell by 36.7 percentage points to 49.5 per cent.
“This crisis is unrelenting. Our latest economic outlook is for airlines to lose $118.5 billion this year, or $66 for every passenger carried. Assuming borders re-open by mid-2021, the industry will ‘only’ lose $38.7 billion in 2021. Now is the time for governments to step up.
“The $173 billion of support provided to date has enabled the industry to survive, but more is required to carry the industry through to next summer. IATA has identified a range of market stimulation options that will support the viability of air routes while encouraging people to travel. Without aviation’s $3.5 trillion contribution to global GDP, there will be no broader economic recovery,” de Juniac said.