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Global air traffic predicted not return to levels before COVID until 2024

18 Aug 2020

A year later than its earlier projection due to a slower recovery this year, global air traffic will not return to levels before the coronavirus pandemic until 2024, an industry body said. 


The International Air Transport Association is now expecting the number of global passengers to drop by 55 per cent in 2020, sharper than its April 46 per cent drop forecast. 


"The slow rate of improvement is telling us that the recovery will take a year longer than we had previously expected," said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac at a briefing late last month. 


The grimmer outlook reflects a cut in business trips by firms under financial pressure, weak consumer confidence faced with concerns about their future employment and slow containment of viruses in the United States and some developing economies. 


IATA chief said the latest expectation of a rebound to pre-pandemic levels "could further slip if we have setbacks in containing the virus or finding a vaccine”. 


As many countries imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, passenger traffic, measured in the total distance flew by passengers, tanked 86.5 per cent in June from a year earlier after a 91.0 per cent fall in May. 


The load factor, which measures how full passenger aircraft are, stood at 57.6 per cent, an all-time low for the month. 


According to the IATA, which represents some 290 airlines or 82 per cent of global air traffic, the plummeting demand will lead the airline industry to lose $84.3 billion in 2020 with revenue forecasts falling by 50 per cent. 


Japan's two largest airlines reported poor earnings in their most recent quarterly earnings. 


Japan Airlines Co. reported a net loss of $879 million (93.71 billion yen) in the April-June quarter, its largest loss on a quarterly basis since the April-June fiscal 2009 period. 


ANA Holdings Inc., All Nippon Airways Co.'s parent company, registered a record net loss of 108.82 billion yen in the quarter through June. 


Neither carrier has provided a full-year forecast through March 2021, saying that it is too early to assess the virus' impact.