Global passenger traffic drops 53 per cent in March this year

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

We have not hit bottom yet, says de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March this year showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) dived 52.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period.

This was the “largest decline in recent history, reflecting the impact of government actions to slow the spread of Covid-19,” said IATA in a statement.

IATA’s chief said that it is imperative that governments work with industry now to prepare for that day. It is the only way to ensure that we have measures in place to keep passengers safe during travel and reassure governments that aviation will not be a vector in the spread of the disease.

March international passenger demand shrank 55.8 per cent compared to March 2019. That is much worse than the10.3 per cent year-to-year decline in February. All regions recorded double-digit percentage traffic declines. Capacity tumbled 42.8 per cent, and load factor plunged 18.4 percentage points to 62.5 per cent.

Asia-Pacific airlines led the decliners, as March traffic dropped 65.5 per cent compared to the year-ago period, which was more than double the 30.7 per cent decline in February. Capacity fell 51.4 per cent and load factor collapsed 23.4 percentage points to 57.1 per cent.

Disastrous month

In seasonally adjusted terms, global passenger volumes returned to levels last seen in 2006. March capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) fell by 36.2 per cent and load factor plummeted 21.4 percentage points to 60.6 per cent.

According to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, March was a disastrous month for aviation. Airlines progressively felt the growing impact of the Covid-19 related border closings and restrictions on mobility, including in domestic markets. Demand was at the same level it was in 2006 but we have the fleets and employees for double that. Worse, we know that the situation deteriorated even more in April and most signs point to a slow recovery.”

“The industry is in free fall and we have not hit bottom. But there will come a time—soon, I hope—when authorities will be ready to begin easing restrictions on mobility and opening borders,” he said.

We must also avoid the confusion and complexity that followed 9/11. Global standards that are mutually accepted and operationally practicable will be mission-critical to achieving this. The only way to get there is by working together,” said de Juniac.

Published on April 29, 2020

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