Already Weak, Air Travel Demand Is Fading. And Pent-Up Business Travel Demand Will Be Soft Whenever It Arrives
The global decline in air travel will be worse than previously forecast and a new report on corporations’ plans travel through 2021 shows that the recovery of business travel demand will continue be sluggish even after the anticipated approval of one or more Covid-19 vaccines in, hopefully, the first half of 2021.
The International Air Transport Association, the airline industry’s global trade group, said Tuesday that global passenger traffic this year will be down a whopping two-thirds – or 66% – from 2019. Previously IATA had forecast a traffic decline of 63%.
While the revised view is only 3 percentage points worse than IATA’s previous forecast, the enormous numbers of passenger miles flown globally in a year means that measly 3-point difference amounts to a staggering 220.5 million fewer passenger miles being flown this year than previously expected by IATA. Globally in 2019 the world’s airlines flew about 5.2 trillion passenger miles. One passenger flying one mile equals a passenger mile flown. IATA now expects the world’s airlines to fly only about 1.65 trillion passenger miles, total, in 2020.
“The improvement that we saw in the summer months has more or less stopped,” said IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce.
Globally, airline traffic in August – typically the peak month for air travel – was down 75.3% from the same month in 2019, when adjusted for both the number of passengers flown and the distances they flew. In July, he said the year-over-year drop was even worse: down 79.5%. He did not provide traffic decline figures for September,