Global passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) is not expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected, according to the latest forecast from the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
The recovery in short haul travel is still expected to happen faster - but for 2020, global passenger numbers (enplanements) are expected to decline by 55% compared to 2019, worse than the April forecast of 46%.
The more pessimistic recovery outlook is based on a number of recent trends, among them the slow virus containment in the US and developing economies. And although developed economies outside of the US have been largely successful in containing the spread of the virus, renewed outbreaks have occurred in these economies, and in China.
The reduction in corporate travel and weak consumer confidence add to this toxic mix.
“Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying. International markets remain largely closed,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s Director General and CEO.
“For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures—financial and otherwise.”
African airlines fared worst of all regions with traffic sinking 98.1% in June, little changed from a 98.6% demand drop in May. Capacity contracted 84.5%, and load factor dived 62.1 percentage points to just 8.9% of seats filled.