Air traffic has gone ‘from bad to worse’, reports Iata

Air traffic has gone ‘from bad to worse’, reports Iata

Iata described global air traffic as going from “bad to worse” as it reported a fresh fall in traffic in January

Airline association Iata reported total demand in January was down 72% against January 2019, two percentage points worse than in December. A decline in domestic travel in China dragged industry figures lower than in December.

But international passenger demand was 86% down on 2019 in January, just one point down on December, while domestic demand worldwide was down 47% – compared with 43% in December.

Iata chief economist Brian Pearce reported passenger load factors “hit an all-time low” in January, and warned: “We think the situation will get worse before it improves.”

China’s domestic traffic was down 34% in January compared with just 8.5% in December, “owing to stricter traffic controls amid several localised Covid-19 outbreaks”.

Pearce noted: “China’s domestic market weakened further in February because the Chinese New Year did not happen.”

Asia-Pacific airline traffic in January was down 95%, with Iata noting the region has suffered the steepest traffic decline in the world for seven consecutive months.

The average load factor in the region was barely 33% despite capacity falling 87% on 2019.

Europe’s carriers saw an 83% decline in traffic versus January 2019, but recorded an average load factor of 51% with capacity down 74%.

Middle East airlines saw demand down 82% in January, capacity fell 68%, and average load factors were just below 41%.

Traffic in North America was down 79% on 2019 and capacity down 60%, with an average load factor of 43%.

Latin America also saw a 79% decline in traffic and capacity was down 68%, but the average load factor of 55% was the highest of any region for a fourth consecutive month.

Iata Director General Alexandre de Juniac said: “2021 is starting off worse than 2020 ended and that is saying a lot.

“Even as vaccination programmes gather pace, new Covid variants are leading governments to increase travel restrictions.

“Financial prospects are worsening. We now expect the industry to burn through $75-$95 billion in cash this year. This is not something the industry will be able to endure without additional relief measures.”

De Juniac insisted: “It is critical governments build and share their restart plans along with the benchmarks that will guide them.”

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