Recovery in air travel demand came to a full stop in November: Alexandre de Juniac

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently revealed that passenger demand recovery came to a halt in November 2020 that had started dwindling since the Northern hemisphere’s summer travel season.

Talking about the inefficiency of travel restrictions and building hindrance in the recovery of air travel demand, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said, “The already tepid recovery in air travel demand came to a full stop in November. That’s because governments responded to new outbreaks with even more severe travel restrictions and quarantine measures.  This is inefficient. Such measures increase hardship for millions.”

He further added, “Vaccines offer the long-term solution. In the meantime, testing is the best way to stop the virus's spread and start economic recovery. How much more anguish do people need to go through—job losses, mental stress—before governments will understand that?”

Overall demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 70.3 per cent compared to November 2019. It is not quite different from the 70.6 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in October. November capacity was 58.6 per cent below previous year levels. Whereas load factor fell 23 percentage points to 58 per cent, which was a record low for the month.

In November, international passenger demand was 88.3 per cent below November 2019, slightly worse than the 87.6 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in October. Capacity fell 77.4 per cent below previous year levels, and load factor dropped 38.7 percentage points to 41.5 per cent. Europe was the main driver of the weakness as new lockdowns weighed on travel demand.

Recovery in domestic demand, which had been the relative bright spot, also stalled, with November domestic traffic down 41.0 per cent compared to the prior year (it stood at 41.1 per cent below the previous year’s level in October). Capacity was 27.1 per cent down on 2019 levels and the load factor dropped 15.7 percentage points to 66.6 per cent.

Weighing International Traffic

Asia-Pacific airlines’ November traffic dropped to 95.0 per cent compared to the year-ago, which witnessed a minute change from the 95.3 per cent decline in October. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for a fifth consecutive month. Capacity dropped 87.4 per cent and load factor sank 48.4 percentage points to 31.6 per cent, the lowest among regions.

European carriers saw an 87 per cent decline in traffic in November versus a year ago. It worsened from an 83 per cent decline in October. Capacity withered 76.5 per cent and load factor fell by 37.4 percentage points to 46.6 per cent.

Middle Eastern airlines’ demand plummeted 86 per cent in November year-to-year, which improved from an 86.9 per cent demand drop in October. Capacity fell 71 per cent, and load factor declined 37.9 percentage points to 35.3 per cent.

North American carriers had an 83 per cent traffic drop in November, versus an 87.8 per cent decline in October. Capacity dived 66.1 per cent, and load factor dropped 40.5 percentage points to 40.8 per cent.

Latin American airlines experienced a 78.6 per cent demand drop in November, compared to the same month last year, improved from an 86.1 per cent decline in October year-to-year. This was the strongest improvement of any region. Routes to/from Central America were the most resilient as governments reduced travel restrictions—especially quarantine requirements. November capacity was 72.0 per cent down and load factor dropped 19.5 percentage points to 62.7 per cent, highest by far among the regions, for a second consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic sank 76.7 per cent in November, little changed from a 77.2 per cent drop in October, but the best performance among the regions. Capacity contracted 63.7 per cent, and load factor fell 25.2 percentage points to 45.2 per cent.

Weighing Domestic Traffic

Australia’s domestic traffic was down 79.8 per cent in November compared to November a year ago. The improvement is evident compared to October’s 84.4 per cent decline as some states opened up. However, a lag was visible in other domestic markets.

At the same time, India’s domestic traffic fell 49.6 per cent in November, improving with over a 55.6 per cent decline in October. Further improvement is predictable post reopening of businesses.

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