COVID-19 pandemic wipes out 21 years of global air passenger traffic growth – Report

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, leaving many sick, dead, economies shut and deepening poverty, the airline industry is already counting its losses, as new data released this week shows the impact on the business of aviation around the world.

According to data from the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 map, which tracks infections and deaths around the world, as at January 2, 2021, there are over 84 million infections, and more than 1.8 million deaths from the pandemic.

Fresh data released by global aviation data company, Cirium Airline Insights Review 2020 shows the devastating effects on the aviation sector of worldwide travel restrictions to control the virus.

According to the report the pandemic and its consequences wiped out 21 years of global passenger traffic growth in a matter of months, reducing traffic in 2020 to levels last seen in 1999. In comparison to 2019, passenger traffic is estimated to be down 67 per cent in 2020.

It notes that at the peak of the disruption in April, scheduled passenger flights dropped significantly to just 13,600 globally on April 25, compared to the year’s busiest day on January 3 when Cirium tracked over 95,000 scheduled passenger flights globally. This marks an extraordinary 86 per cent reduction in flights, the report indicated.

It finds that from January to December 2020, airlines operated 49 per cent fewer flights than they did in 2019 – down from 33.2 million flights to just 16.8 million (to December 20).

Domestic travel went down 40 per cent in 2020, from 21.5 million flights in 2019, while international flights suffered an even more precipitous drop as they were 68 per cent below the 11.7 million flights tracked in 2019, it says.

Commenting, the CEO of Cirium, Jeremy Bowen said: “This severe setback shows the true extent of the challenge faced by the struggling aviation sector as it has sought to reset itself in the new post COVID-19 era.

“Whereas this time last year we were celebrating the on-time performance of global carriers, this year is dramatically different. Most global airlines were largely on time in 2020; it’s just a shame that the traveling public, airlines and aviation firms worldwide didn’t benefit.’

Adding, “The factors which usually cause delay, such as congested airspace, taxiways and late connecting passengers simply did not exist in 2020.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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