March sees air passenger demand drop by 53% year on year

Report says March was a “disastrous month for aviation”

At the time of writing, the industry faces losses of up to US$314 billion
At the time of writing, the industry faces losses of up to US$314 billion

March 2020 saw the greatest drop in air passenger demand in recent history, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Taking into account a range of KPIs, including total revenue, demand plummeted by 52.9% in March 2020 compared to March 2019. In seasonally adjusted terms, global passenger volumes were thrown back to their levels in 2006, with capacity also falling by 36.2%.

“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,” said IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “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,”

No region in March was left unscathed by the ramifications of COVID-19. Asia-Pacific saw the worst results, with traffic lowering by 65.5% compared to the same point last year. The Middle East and Africa however recorded some of the lowest drops, with a 45.9% and 42.8% drop in traffic respectively. For the Middle East, March’s results reversed the 1.6% growth recorded in February.

He added: “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. 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.

“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.”

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