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IATA: Air Travel to Return to pre-Covid-19 levels in 2024

Social distancing of passengers at airport check-in line. Photo source: IATA

“Recovery delayed as international travel remains locked down.” – IATA

Global passenger traffic is expected to return to 2019 levels in 2024, a year later than previously projected, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

During a press conference on Tuesday, IATA’s chief economist, Brian Pearce, said that reasons included domestic markets opening ahead of international markets (border restrictions taken due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) have not yet been widely relaxed) and passengers preferring short-haul travel.

According to IATA, June 2020 passenger traffic foreshadowed the slower-than-expected recovery. Traffic fell 86.5 percent compared to the year-ago period – only slightly improved from a 91 percent decline in May. This was driven by rising demand in domestic markets. The June load factor set an all-time low for the month at 57.6 percent.

IATA’s revised baseline forecast is for global enplanements to fall 63 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 (the previous forecast was for a 55 decline decline).

“What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying. International markets remain largely closed. Consumer confidence is depressed and not helped by the UK’s weekend decision to impose a blanket quarantine on all travelers returning from Spain,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, adding that in many parts of the world coronavirus infections are still rising.

“All of this points to a longer recovery period and more pain for the industry and the global economy,” de Juniac said.

Concluding, de Juniac said that summer — the aviation industry’s busiest season — is passing by rapidly; with little chance for an upswing in international air travel.

“Unless governments move quickly and decisively to find alternatives to border closures, confidence-destroying stop-start re-openings and demand-killing quarantine,” he stressed.

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