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After April air passenger demand trough, first signals of uptick

News Agencies | Updated on: 4 June 2020, 11:54 IST

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that demand for air services is beginning to recover after hitting bottom in April.

Passenger demand in April measured in revenue passenger kilometres plunged 94.3 per cent compared to April 2019 as the COVID-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down domestic and international air travel.

This is the sharpest rate of decline never seen in the history of IATA's traffic series which dates back to 1990.

More recently, figures show that daily flight totals rose 30 per cent between the low point on April 21 and May 27. This is primarily in domestic operations and off of a very low base (5.7 per cent of 2019 demand).

While this uptick is not significant to the global dimension of the air transport industry, it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence.

In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of reestablishing connectivity.

"April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions," said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

"And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany and the United States. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time -- possibly years -- to mature, he said in a statement.

IATA calculated that by the first week of April, governments in 75 per cent of the markets tracked by IATA completely banned entry while an additional 19 per cent had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals.

The initial flight increases have been concentrated in domestic markets. Data from late May show that flight levels in South Korea, China and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22 to 28 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Searches for air travel on Google also were up 25 per cent by the end of May compared to the April low, although that is a rise from a very low base and still 60 per cent lower than at the start of the year.


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First published: 4 June 2020, 11:54 IST