Passenger revenue takes $314 billion hit, IATA estimates

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released an updated analysis showing that the Covid-19 crisis will see airline passenger revenues drop by $314 billion in 2020, a 55 percent decline compared to 2019.

On 24 March IATA estimated $252 billion in lost revenues (-44 percent vs. 2019) in a scenario with severe travel restrictions lasting three months.

The updated figures reflect a significant deepening of the crisis since then, and reflect the following parameters:

Severe domestic restrictions lasting three months Some restrictions on international travel extending beyond the initial three months Worldwide severe impact, including Africa and Latin America (which had a small presence of the disease and were expected to be less impacted in the March analysis).

Full-year passenger demand (domestic and international) is expected to be down 48 percent compared to 2019.The two main elements driving this are:

Overall Economic Developments: The world is heading for recession. The economic shock of the Covid-19 crisis is expected to be at its most severe in Q2 when GDP is expected to shrink by 6 percent (by comparison, GDP shrank by 2 percent at the height of the Global Financial Crisis). Passenger demand closely follows GDP progression. The impact of reduced economic activity in Q2 alone would result in an 8 percent fall in passenger demand in the third quarter.

Travel Restrictions: Travel restrictions will deepen the impact of recession on demand for travel. The most severe impact is expected to be in Q2. As of early April, the number of flights globally was down 80 percent compared to 2019 in large part owing to severe travel restrictions imposed by governments to fight the spread of the virus. Domestic markets could still see the start of an upturn in demand beginning in the third quarter in a first stage of lifting travel restrictions. International markets, however, will be slower to resume as it appears likely that governments will retain these travel restrictions longer.

“The industry’s outlook grows darker by the day. The scale of the crisis makes a sharp V-shaped recovery unlikely. Realistically, it will be a U-shaped recovery with domestic travel coming back faster than the international market. We could see more than half of passenger revenues disappear. That would be a $314 billion hit. Several governments have stepped up with new or expanded financial relief measures but the  situation remains critical. Airlines could burn through $61 billion of cash reserves in the second quarter alone. That puts at risk 25 million jobs dependent on aviation. And without urgent relief, many airlines will not survive to lead the economic recovery,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

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