in Air Transport

Passenger demand plunges in March as travel restrictions take hold

Posted 29 April 2020 · Add Comment

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for March 2020 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) dived 52.9% compared to the year-ago period. African airlines’ traffic fell 42.8% in March.

 

This was the largest decline in recent history, reflecting the impact of government actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. In seasonally adjusted terms, global passenger volumes returned to levels last seen in 2006. March capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) fell by 36.2% and load factor plummeted 21.4 percentage points to 60.6%.

 

“March was a disastrous month for aviation. Airlines progressively felt the growing impact of the COVID-19 related border closings and restrictions on mobility, including in domestic markets. Demand was at the same level it was in 2006 but we have the fleets and employees for double that. Worse, we know that the situation deteriorated even more in April and most signs point to a slow recovery,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

 

African airlines’ traffic fell 42.8% in March, which was a huge deterioration from a 1.1% decline in February. Capacity dropped 32.9%, and load factor contracted 10.5 percentage points to 60.8%.

 

 

Other International Passenger Markets

 

March international passenger demand shrank 55.8% compared to March 2019. That is much worse than the10.3% year-to-year decline in February. All regions recorded double-digit percentage traffic declines. Capacity tumbled 42.8%, and load factor plunged 18.4 percentage points to 62.5%.

 

Asia-Pacific airlines led the decliners, as March traffic dropped 65.5% compared to the year-ago period, which was more than double the 30.7% decline in February. Capacity fell 51.4% and load factor collapsed 23.4 percentage points to 57.1%.

 

European carriers saw March demand fall 54.3% year-to-year. In February, traffic was virtually flat compared to February the prior year. Capacity dropped 42.9%, and load factor sank 16.8 percentage points to 67.6%, which was the highest among regions.

 

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 45.9% traffic decrease in March, reversing a 1.6% increase in February. Capacity slid 33.5%, and load factor dropped 13.7 percentage points to 59.9%.

 

North American carriers’ traffic dived 53.7% compared to March a year ago, dramatically worsened from a 2.9% drop in February compared to February 2019. Capacity fell 38.1%, and load factor sank by 21.1 percentage points to 62.8%.

 

Latin American airlines experienced a 45.9% demand drop in March, compared to the same month last year; in February traffic declined 0.2% year-to-year. Capacity fell 33.5% and load factor sagged 15.3 percentage points to 66.5%.

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