IATA gives bleaker outlook

By Bev Fearis, published 30/09/20

IATA now expects passenger traffic to be down 66% this year, even worse than its previous forecast of a 63% decline compared with 2019.

The airline body said any recovery in passenger flights was brought to an abrupt halt in mid-August when governments reimposed restrictions in a number of key markets in the face of new Covid-19 outbreaks.

“August’s disastrous traffic performance puts a cap on the industry’s worst-ever summer season,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“International demand recovery is virtually non-existent and domestic markets in Australia and Japan actually regressed in the face of new outbreaks and travel restrictions.

“A few months ago, we thought that a full-year fall in demand of -63% compared to 2019 was as bad as it could get. With the dismal peak summer travel period behind us, we have revised our expectations downward to -66%.”

IATA said forward bookings for air travel in the fourth quarter show the recovery since the low point in April will continue to falter.

Cash generated during the busy summer season in the Northern Hemisphere usually provides airlines with a cushion during the autumn and winter, but IATA said this year airlines have no such protection.

“Without additional government relief measures and a reopening of borders, hundreds of thousands of airline jobs will disappear. But it is not just airlines and airline jobs at risk. Globally tens of millions of jobs depend on aviation. If borders don’t reopen the livelihoods of these people will be at grave risk,” said de Juniac.

“We need an internationally agreed regime of pre-departure Covid-19 testing to give governments the confidence to reopen borders, and passengers the confidence to travel by air again.”