Global airlines cut their coronavirus recovery forecast on Tuesday (July 28). Now they say it would take until 2024 – a year longer than expected – for passenger traffic to return to pre-crisis levels.
“We estimate that we should come back to normal times, to the 2019 figures, one year later than in our previous forecast. So more in 2023-2024”, says International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and CEO, Alexandre De Juniac.
In an update on the pandemic’s crippling impact on air travel, airlines association cites slow virus containment in the United States and developing countries. And a weaker outlook for corporate travel.
“We are still facing a very, very difficult situation”, De Juniac says. More airline companies bankruptcies are coming, he adds.
Travel barriers and new restrictions
Lingering travel barriers and new restrictions in some markets are also weighing on nearer-term prospects. IATA cuts its 2020 passenger numbers forecast to a 55% decline. It is sharper than the 45% drop predicted in April.
A surprise move by Britain to quarantine arrivals from Spain brings more uncertainty.
“We hope that we will reopen borders or lift travel restrictions with Spain in the short term”, De Juniac says.
Airlines are keen to see testing as an alternative to quarantine. Asked whether the industry would be ready to cover some of the cost, De Juniac says it should be paid by governments.
“Otherwise it could be too costly for many passengers to pay for tests”, he added.
Recovery prospects are weakened by the spread of COVID-19 in the United States and developing countries. Together they represent 40% of global air travel.
Business travel may also face a sustained slump. As a result threatening the profitability of long-haul airlines and routes as corporate clients rein in spending and make greater use of videoconferences that have become the norm during lockdowns.