The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is not optimistic about the immediate future of air travel, saying in a statement on its website on July 28 that global passenger traffic is not likely to return to “pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024.”
It had originally projected that air traffic would bounce back at least one year earlier.
According to the agency, air travel capacity has not been able to recover in the way it first predicted, and when better times do come, short-haul travel is anticipated to take precedence over long-haul flights.
Much of these predictions are due to the United States being unable to slow the spread of the virus, as well as other developed economies. These nations represent at least 40 per cent of the global air travel markets, the IATA said.
IATA CEO and Director General Alexandre de Juniac said, “Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying.”
He added,“Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain.”
Another major factor is that there is, and will be, a lot less corporate travel happening – travel that will continue to drop due to budget constraints “even as the economy improves.”
The agency added that although there was a demand for both VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel, a passenger survey conducted by the IATA last June revealed that at least 55 per cent of the respondents “don’t plan to travel in 2020.”
This April, reports showed that air traffic went down 94.1 per cent from last year’s numbers. And with airlines unable to fill their seats, billions of dollars had been lost in revenue all over the world, leaving an already crippled industry struggling to remain afloat.
China is the only country where the economy is showing signs of being on a recovery path. However, this can hardly be said for a number of other nations around the world.
The IATA also shared, “Furthermore, there is little sign of virus containment in many important emerging economies, which in combination with the U.S., represent around 40 per cent of global air travel markets.
It added, “Their continued closure, particularly to international travel, is a significant drag on recovery.” / TISG