The aviation industry’s governing body has said that air travel is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
The International Air Travel Association (IATA) has issued a statement pushing back an earlier prediction of a possible mid-2021 recovery, stating that 2024 is more realistic as governments worldwide struggle to curb the pandemic.
“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,” an IATA spokesperson said.
“Furthermore, there is little sign of the virus containment in many important emerging economies, which in combination with the US, represent 40% of global air travel markets.”
“Their continued closure, particularly to international travel, is a significant drag on recovery,” the IATA said.
According to numbers from ABC News “planes were only 62.9% full on domestic flights around the world, well below levels at which airlines make money, and an abysmal 38.9% for international travel.”
The IATA expects international air travel rates will drop by 55% in 2020 compared to 2019 figures, but forecasts passenger numbers to rebound by 62% in 2021.
We’ve reported previously on Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birhimgham’s remarks that international travel would be unlikely to return to normal until 2021, going off the IATA’s previous forecasts.
Those have since been revised to the current forecasting from the IATA.
Currently, international air travel has been slashed by 96.8% in June 2020, compared to 2019 figures. European carriers have been hit particularly hard, with a 96.7% drop in June, after reporting a 98.7% drop in May passenger numbers compared to a year ago.
Even with the forecasted jump, passenger numbers overall will still be down by more than a third compared to 2019 passenger volumes.
“Scientific advances in fighting COVID-19 including the development of a successful vaccine, could allow a faster recovery,” the IATA said. “However, at present, there appears to be more downside risk than upside to the baseline forecast.”
The IATA’s CEO & Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, has said that international flights account for more than two-thirds of global air traffic volumes, and the European market – which is typically busier during Summer months – has struggled in the face of “demand-killing quarantines.”
“For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures – financial and otherwise.”
De Juniac is calling on governments to implement “accurate, fast, scalable and affordable” testing measures to accelerate the recovery of the air travel industry.
In the European context, Air France recently received a 7-billion euro package from the French government after announcing lay-offs for 7,500 of its employees. Dutch carrier KLM has received 3.4-billion euros and German carrier Lufthansa has secured a 9-billion euro package from the government.