Global airline body IATA released an updated global passenger forecast on Tuesday, warning that the recovery in air traffic has been slower than expected and that the storm facing the industry is far from over.
In its base case scenario, global passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometers will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement.
In an interview with Xinhua, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said although there has been an improvement in short-haul travel, international markets still remain largely closed and consumer confidence is depressed.
“We have very weak passenger demand that is recovering only slowly, first in domestic markets but not in intercontinental travel due to the border closures and travel restrictions that have been imposed by governments,” he said.
De Juniac believed that new health and safety regulations such as temperature checks at security and in-flight mask rules could help restore passenger confidence.
Recovery of passenger numbers to pre-COVID-19 levels, however, will also slide by a year from 2022 to 2023, IATA data showed. For 2020, global passenger numbers are expected to decline by 55 percent compared with 2019, worsened from the April forecast of 46 percent.
In June, passenger traffic fell 86.5 percent compared with the year-ago period, according to IATA. That is only slightly improved from a 91 percent contraction in May.
De Juniac said this was driven by rising demand in domestic markets, particularly China.
“The Chinese airlines are recovering especially for domestic travel, but for international travel, as many countries have closed their borders or implemented very strict sanitary and health control measures, the international travel is very, very low,” he said.
“We expect the Chinese airlines to be in a better situation than their counterparts in other countries but still in a weaker position than they were last year,” he added.
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Source: by Martina Fuchs (GENEVA, XINHUA)