The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released its results for the full-year 2020 global passenger results. Global demand in RPKs (revenue passenger kilometers) fell 65.9% compared to 2019 figures, and international passenger capacity measured in ASKs (available seat kilometers) fell by 75.6% compared to 2019 figures, while load factor fell 19.2% to 62.8% when compared to 2019 figures. Domestic demand fell 48.8% and capacity contracted 35.7%, with the load factor dropping 17% to 66.6%. The outlook for 2021 still looks bleak with bookings for future travel down 70% compared to this time a year ago.
IATA’s baseline forecast for 2021 is for a 50.4% improvement on 2020 demand that would bring the industry to 50.6% of 2019 levels. While this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new virus variants persist. Should such a scenario materialize, demand improvement could be limited to just 13% over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38% of 2019 levels.
“Last year was a catastrophe. There is no other way to describe it. What recovery there was over the Northern hemisphere summer season stalled in autumn and the situation turned dramatically worse over the year-end holiday season, as more severe travel restrictions were imposed in the face of new outbreaks and new strains of COVID-19.” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ full-year traffic plunged 80.3% in 2020 compared to 2019. European carriers saw a 73.7% traffic decline in 2020 versus 2019. Middle Eastern airlines’ annual passenger demand in 2020 was 72.9% below 2019. North American airlines’ full year traffic fell 75.4% compared to 2019. Latin American airlines had a 71.8% full year traffic decline compared to 2019, while African airlines’ traffic fell 69.8% last year compared to 2019.