Global airlines less hopeful on COVID-19 recovery

Global air traffic won't recover from COVID-19 until 2024, says airline body

The global airline passenger market is going to recover more slowly than previously predicted, the International Air Travel Association (IATA) has warned in a series of grim forecasts released on Tuesday 28 July. "Their continued closure, particularly to worldwide travel, is a significant drag on recovery".

The International Air Transport Association, IATA, pushed back its prediction by one year due to the slow containment of the outbreak in the United States and some developing countries.

In grim news for anyone with wanderlusting ambitions, the world's leading travel body has pushed its previous prediction on the return of pre-COVID worldwide travel out by a year, and is now asserting that global travel may not fully return to "normal" levels until 2024.

The pisspoor handling of the pandemic in the United States, as well as increasing outbreaks in developing countries, are also contributing factors that is slowing the predicted return of worldwide air travel. The report says there is "little sign" of virus containment in many important emerging economies, which represents around 40% of global air travel markets.

In particular, it says that "corporate travel budgets are expected to be very constrained as companies continue to be under financial pressure even as the economy improves". The survey says video conferences have made significant impacts as a substitute for in-person meetings and therefore reducing the need for corporate travel.

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Consumer confidence in air travel has been weakened.

But, crucially for the profitability of airlines, short-haul passengers generate less revenue and so the full recovery of the airline business as a whole will only happen in 2024.

Looking at the worldwide passenger market figures for June, De Juniac said traffic was 96.8% less than in June 2019. That means that passenger numbers will recover quicker than RPK, which is not expected to reach 219 levels until 2024. "But we do not see for the moment the testing system ready to accommodate the constraints of air travel".

De Juniac said that in many parts of the world infections are still rising. Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK's weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO, says the recovery will take quite some time. "Summer - our industry's busiest season - is passing by rapidly; with little chance for an upswing in worldwide air travel unless governments move quickly and decisively to find alternatives to border closures, confidence-destroying stop-start re-openings and demand-killing quarantine", de Juniac added. Let us know in the comments.

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