More pessimistic forecast from IATA

By Bev Fearis, published 29/07/20

Global passenger traffic will not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected by the aviation industry.

In its latest update this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said this more pessimistic recovery outlook is based on a combination of slow virus containment in the US and developing economies, reduced corporate travel and weak consumer confidence.

But it said the recovery could be speeded up by scientific advances in fighting Covid-19, alongside accurate, fast, scalable and affordable testing measures and comprehensive contact tracing.

“We need to learn to manage the risks of living with Covid-19 with targeted and predictable measures that will safely re-build traveller confidence and shattered economies,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“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. Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain. And in many parts of the world infections are still rising. All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy.”

IATA urged governments around the world to continue with relief measures.

“A full Northern Winter season waiver on the 80-20 use-it-or-lose it slot rule, for example, would provide critical relief to airlines in planning schedules amid unpredictable demand patterns,” said de Juniac.

“Airlines are planning their schedules. They need to keep sharply focused on meeting demand and not meeting slot rules that were never meant to accommodate the sharp fluctuations of a crisis. The earlier we know the slot rules the better, but we are still waiting for governments in key markets to confirm a waiver.”