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IATA reduces air traffic outlook as crisis drags on

  • Reuters Staff

    Reuters

Paris, France   /   Tue, September 29, 2020   /   08:54 pm
IATA reduces air traffic outlook as crisis drags on People wearing face masks are seen at the Beijing Daxing International Airport, ahead of Chinese National Day holiday, in Beijing, China, on Sept. 25, 2020. Full-year passenger traffic is set to decline 66 percent, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, compared with a previously forecast 63 percent decline. (REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Global airlines reduced their 2020 traffic forecast on Tuesday, after a small summer rebound evaporated amid renewed coronavirus outbreaks and travel restrictions.

Full-year passenger traffic is set to decline 66 percent, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, compared with a previously forecast 63 percent decline.

“The improvement that we saw in the summer months has more or less stopped,” IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce said. August traffic was down 75.3 percent in terms that reflect passenger numbers as well as distance flown, compared with a 79.5 percent drop in July.

Airlines are pressing governments to abandon quarantines and other travel curbs blamed for worsening the slump, and instead roll-out rapid COVID-19 testing at airports.

Load factors that measure the proportion of aircraft seats filled fell 27.2 points to a record low of 58.5 percent in August.

“The industry is restarting but it looks as though it’s still burning through cash,” Pearce said. Losses will continue to mount throughout 2020, with bookings data pointing to a weak fourth quarter.

August’s short-lived improvement was driven by domestic routes, down more most 50 percent year-on-year, while international traffic was 88 percent lower.

A rebound in Russia’s domestic market, up 3 percent on last year, contrasts with Australian flights still down 88 percent and Chinese internal traffic still 19 percent lower year-on-year, IATA said.

Cargo demand was down 12.6 percent in August, an improvement on July’s 14.4 percent decline, it also said. The grounding of passenger jets has reduced capacity, supporting prices.