GENEVA, Switzerland — Global air traffic will not return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least 2024, a year later than previously anticipated, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
One of the reasons cited by IATA for the “more pessimistic” outlook is the slow virus containment in the US and developing economies.
“Although developed economies outside of the US have been largely successful in containing the spread of the virus, renewed outbreaks have occurred in these economies, and in China,” the IATA noted.
“Furthermore there is little sign of the virus containment in many important emerging economies, which in combination with the US, represent 40 percent of global air travel markets,” it added.
Other factors for the delay include reduced corporate travel and weak consumer confidence with people preferring to postpone travel because of concerns over job security and rising unemployment and fears of catching COVID-19.
The organisation expects enplanements to fall by 55 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and stressed that although passenger numbers should rebound by 62 per cent in 2021, it will still be down by nearly a third compared to 2019.
As such, a full recovery to 2019 levels in passenger numbers is not expected until 2023.
Furthermore, as domestic markets are reopening faster than international markets, RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometres) will recover even more slowly, with passenger traffic expected to return to pre-crisis levels in 2024, also one year later than previously forecast.