Air travel demand unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels quickly

Economic and safety concerns mean demand for air travel is unlikely to bounce back immediately to levels seen before the coronavirus outbreak, an industry body said, citing the results of a recent survey conducted in 11 nations around the world.

“Passenger confidence will suffer a double whammy even after the pandemic is contained, hit by personal economic concerns in the face of a looming recession on top of lingering concerns about the safety of travel,” Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association, said in a recent release.

“Governments and industry must be quick and coordinated with confidence-boosting measures,” he said.

An IATA survey found 60 percent of respondents anticipate a return to air travel within one to two months of the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic while 40 percent could wait six months or more.

Another 69 percent could delay a return to air travel until their personal financial situation stabilizes.

The poll was conducted from April 6 to 9 on people who traveled by air in the last nine months in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Japan, India, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States.

“An immediate rebound from the catastrophic fall in passenger demand appears unlikely,” the IATA chief said. “People still want to travel. But they are telling us that they want clarity on the economic situation and will likely wait for at least a few months after any ‘all clear’ before returning to the skies.”

The airline industry has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus crisis, which prompted many countries to impose travel restrictions and airlines to cut back on flights.

Global passenger demand, measured in total revenue passenger kilometers, or RPKs, plunged 52.9 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the IATA.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic last month when Australia’s second-largest airline said it had entered voluntary administration.

In Japan, the two biggest carriers, ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co., reported huge losses for the quarter ended March 31 late last month. Both companies said that it is too unclear to provide forecasts for the current business year through March 2021. ANA Holdings is the parent of All Nippon Airways Co.

The international trade body, which represents about 290 airlines comprising 82 percent of scheduled international air traffic, estimates global airlines’ revenue will drop by $314 billion, or 55 percent this year.

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region will see the sharpest revenue fall of $113 billion in 2020, it said.

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Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/06/business/air-travel-covid-19/