IATA released traffic data for January 2020 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 2.4% compared to January 2019.
That was down from 4.6% year-over-year growth for the prior month and is the lowest monthly increase since April 2010, at the time of the volcanic ash cloud crisis in Europe that led to massive airspace closures and flight cancellations.
January capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 1.7%. Load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.3%.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said of the results: “January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January. Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade.”
January international passenger demand rose 2.5% compared to January 2019, down from 3.7% growth the previous month. With the exception of Latin America, all regions recorded increases, led by airlines in Africa and the Middle East that saw minimal impact from the COVID-19 outbreak in January. Capacity climbed 0.9%, and load factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 81.1%.
IATA’s boss noted that: “The COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis that is testing the resilience not only of the airline industry but of the global economy. Airlines are experiencing double-digit declines in demand, and on many routes traffic has collapsed. Aircraft are being parked and employees are being asked to take unpaid leave.”
He continued: “In this emergency, governments need to consider the maintenance of air transport links in their response. Suspension of the 80/20 slot use rule, and relief on airport fees at airports where demand has disappeared are two important steps that can help ensure that airlines are positioned to provide support during the crisis and eventually in the recovery.”
Go to www.iata.org for more.