The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its latest global passenger forecast, in which it details that passenger traffic worldwide in June 2020 fell by 86.5 per cent compared to the same period last year – it contracted 91 per cent contraction in May.
There is some ‘pent-up demand for VFR (visiting friends and relatives) and leisure travel’, the IATA says. It added, however: “Consumer confidence is weak in the face of concerns over job security and rising unemployment, as well as risks of catching Covid-19. Some 55 per cent of respondents to IATA’s June passenger survey don’t plan to travel in 2020.”
The IATA continued: “Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travellers returning from Spain. And, in many parts of the world, infections are still rising. All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy. For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures – financial and otherwise.”
The association’s report also highlights that while there have been improvements when it comes to domestic flying, international markets remain largely closed. And short-haul travel is expected to recover faster than long-haul travel due to passenger comfort levels. In terms of business travel, the IATA reasons that with strained corporate budgets and the increased utilisation and preference for video conferencing, there is no heightened demand for air travel in this market at this moment in time.
While passenger numbers are expected to rise 62 per cent in 2021, the IATA notes that they will still be down almost 30 per cent compared to 2019. A full recovery to 2019 levels is not expected until 2023, one year later than previously forecast.
“In many parts of the world infections are still rising,” said IATA's Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “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. [There is] little chance for an upswing in international air travel unless governments move quickly and decisively to find alternatives to border closures, confidence-destroying stop-start re-openings and demand-killing quarantine.”