Recovery in global air traffic may be delayed to 2024: IATA

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

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 290 global airlines, on Tuesday revised its forecast on recovery of passenger traffic and said it may take 2024 for the passenger traffic to recover to 2019 levels. That is one year later than previously forecast.

Passenger traffic is taking longer than expected to recover.

For 2020 as a whole, IATA now expects a 63-percent drop in air traffic, worse than its previous forecast of 55 percent, Pearce said.

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Global passenger traffic during June 2020 remained 86.5% lower than in the same month in 2019. That is only "slightly improved" from a 91.% contraction in May, according to the IATA.

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 global air travel.

The slowing rate of recovery in air traffic numbers is based on several factors.

"Although developed economies outside of the United States have been largely successful in containing the spread of the virus, renewed outbreaks have occurred in these economies, and in China", the IATA noted.


Besides renewed outbreaks, travel is also being held back by weak consumer confidence and constrained travel budgets at companies that are struggling.

Consumer confidence in air travel has been weakened.

There is some "pent-up demand exists for VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel" but "consumer confidence is weak in the face of concerns over job security and rising unemployment, as well as risks of catching COVID-19".

Domestic and short-haul traffic is recovering faster. That means that passenger numbers will recover quicker than RPK, which is not expected to reach 219 levels until 2024.

In a statement, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac detailed the reasoning behind the extended timeline, stating "Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak". The IATA attributed the improvement to increasing domestic travel within China.

"Cargo is, by far, healthier than the passenger markets but doing business remains exceptionally challenging", stated de Juniac. There has been a rise in cases in Germany, which had earlier done better than many other countries in mitigating the outbreak. "All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy".

"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".

What do you think of the pessimistic outlook for air travel?

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