The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic results for March showing that demand measured in total revenue passenger kilometres dived 52.9 per cent compared to the year-ago period.
This was the biggest decline in recent history, reflecting the impact of government actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. In seasonally adjusted terms, global passenger volumes returned to levels last seen in 2006.
March capacity available seat kilometres fell by 36.2 per cent and load factor plummeted 21.4 percentage points to 60.6 per cent.
"March was a disastrous month for aviation. Airlines progressively felt the growing impact of the COVID-19 related border closings and restrictions on mobility, including in domestic markets," said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
"Demand was at the same level it was in 2006 but we have the fleets and employees for double that. Worse, we know that the situation deteriorated even more in April and most signs point to a slow recovery," he said in a statement.
March international passenger demand shrank 55.8 per cent compared to March 2019. That is much worse than the 10.3 per cent year-to-year decline in February.
All regions recorded double-digit percentage of traffic declines. Capacity tumbled 42.8 per cent, and load factor plunged 18.4 percentage points to 62.5 per cent.Asia Pacific airlines led the decliners as March traffic dropped 65.5 per cent compared to the year-ago period, which was more than double the 30.7 per cent decline in February.
Capacity fell 51.4 per cent and load factor collapsed 23.4 percentage points to 57.1 per cent.Demand for domestic travel shrank 47.8 per cent in March compared to March 2019 with double-digit percentage declines in all markets.
This compared to a 21.3 per cent year-to-year decline in February. Capacity fell 24.5 per cent and load factor plunged 26 percentage points to 58.1 per cent.