IATA reports slower than expected recovery in October

Both international and domestic travel experienced lower than anticipated passenger traffic

Recovery of passenger demand continued to slow in October, the latest analysis conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has shown.

Total demand – measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) – declined by 70.6% compared with October 2019. The year-to-year decline recorded in September was 72.2%, therefore only producing a very slight improvement.

(Photo Schiphol Airport)

Compared to a year ago, capacity was down 59.9%, with load factor falling more than 20 percentage points to 60.2%.

International passenger demand from October declined by 87.8% compared with last years figures. Capacity was also 76.9% below 2019 levels and load factors decreased by 38.3 percentage points to 25%.

Asia-Pacific airlines continued to suffer throughout October as they produced the steepest traffic declines. European carriers also displayed a reduction in demand, as it is the only region to see a deterioration in traffic for two consecutive months.

“Fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 and governments’ continued reliance on heavy-handed quarantines resulted in another catastrophic month for air travel demand,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “While the pace of recovery is faster in some regions than others, the overall picture for international travel is grim. This uneven recovery is more pronounced in domestic markets, with China’s domestic market having nearly recovered, while most others remain deeply depressed.”

In terms of domestic demand, the numbers looked slightly more promising. Domestic traffic declined by 40.8% compared with the previous year, a slight improvement from September’s 43% decrease. Capacity was 29.7% below the 2019 figures and load factor dropped by 13.2 percentage points (70.4%).

China’s domestic traffic was down only by 1.4% in October compared with the previous year. With the domestic economy close to normality, the introduction of low fares and ‘all you can fly’ deals have boosted demand significantly.

“IATA has identified a range of market stimulation options that will support the viability of air routes while encouraging people to travel. Without aviation’s $3.5 trillion contribution to global GDP, there can be no broader economic recovery,” de Juniac concluded.