Category Archives: IATA

Six more airlines implement IATA Travel Pass

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, Jetstar, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian, will implement IATA Travel Pass in a phased rollout across the airlines’ networks. These five airlines join Emirates Airline as IATA Travel Pass implementation pioneers.

The announcement, made on the sidelines of the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting being held in Boston, follows eleven months of extensive testing by 76 airlines.

IATA: Governments’ response to Delta variant slams August domestic traffic demand

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel decelerated in August compared to July, as government actions in response to concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant cut deeply into domestic travel demand.

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to August 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand for air travel in August 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 56.0% compared to August 2019. This marked a slowdown from July, when demand was 53.0% below July 2019 levels.
  • This was entirely driven by domestic markets, which were down 32.2% compared to August 2019, a major deterioration from July 2021, when traffic was down 16.1% versus two years ago. The worst impact was in China, while India and Russia were the only large markets to show a month-to-month improvement compared to July 2021.
  • International passenger demand in August was 68.8% below August 2019, which was an improvement compared to the 73.1% decline recorded in July. All regions showed improvement, which was attributable to growing vaccination rates and less stringent international travel restrictions in some regions.

“August results reflect the impact of concerns over the Delta variant on domestic travel, even as international travel continued on a snail’s pace toward a full recovery that cannot happen until governments restore the freedom to travel. In that regard, the recent US announcement to lift travel restrictions from early November on fully vaccinated travelers is very good news and will bring certainty to a key market. But challenges remain, September bookings indicate a deterioration in international recovery. That’s bad news heading into the traditionally slower fourth quarter,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

AUGUST 2021
(% VS AUGUST 2019)
WORLD SHARE​1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market
100.0%
-56.0%
-46.2%
-15.6%
70.0%
Africa
1.9%
-58.0%
-50.4%
-11.5%
64.0%
Asia Pacific
38.6%
-78.3%
-66.5%
-29.6%
54.5%
Europe
23.7%
-48.7%
-38.7%
-14.4%
74.6%
Latin America
5.7%
-42.0%
-37.7%
-5.8%
77.4%
Middle East
7.4%
-68.0%
-53.1%
-26.0%
56.0%
North America
22.7%
-30.3%
-22.7%
-8.6%
78.6%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

International Passenger Markets

 

European carriers’ August international traffic declined 55.9% versus August 2019, significantly bettering the 63.2% decrease in July compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity dropped 45.0% and load factor fell 17.7 percentage points to 71.5%.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their August international traffic fall 93.4% compared to August 2019, barely improved over the 94.5% drop registered in July 2021 versus July 2019 as the region continues to have the strictest border control measures. Capacity dropped 85.7% and the load factor was down 44.9 percentage points to 37.9%, by far the lowest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines had a 69.3% demand drop in August compared to August 2019, improved upon the 73.6% decrease in July, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 55.0%, and load factor deteriorated 26.2 percentage points to 56.2%.

North American carriers experienced a 59.0% traffic drop in August versus the 2019 period, much improved on the 61.7% decline in July compared to July 2019. Capacity sank 48.5%, and load factor dipped 18.0 percentage points to 70.3%.

Latin American airlines saw a 63.1% drop in August traffic, compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 68.3% decline in July compared to July 2019. August capacity fell 57.3% and load factor dropped 11.4 percentage points to 72.6%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the eleventh consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic fell 58.5% in August versus two years’ ago, somewhat improved over the 60.4% decline in July compared to July 2019. August capacity was down 50.1% and load factor declined 12.7% to 63.0%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

AUGUST 2021
(%VS AUGUST 2019)
WORLD SHARE1​​ RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Domestic
54.2%
-32.2%
-22.2%
-11.0%
74.7%
Dom. Australia
0.7%
-83.3%
-75.1%
-27.1%
54.9%
Dom. Brazil
1.6%
-20.7%
-18.2%
-2.6%
79.9%
Dom. China P.R.
19.9%
-57.0%
-36.8%
-28.1%
59.5%
Dom India
2.1%
-44.8%
-34.7%
-13.3%
72.1%
Dom. Japan
1.4%
-59.8%
-29.4%
-34.9%
46.3%
Dom. Russian Fed.
3.4%
31.9%
32.6%
-0.5%
90.5%
Dom. US
16.6%
-13.2%
-7.1%
-5.7%
80.9%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

China’s domestic traffic dropped 57.0% compared to August 2019 – a huge deterioration from the 2.5% fall in July. However, overall cases were low, and outbreaks were mostly under control by the end of August, suggesting numbers will improve in September.

India’s domestic traffic reversed the trend, as demand fell 44.8% in August, improved from a 58.9% decline in July versus July 2019, owing to positive trends in new cases and vaccination.

The Bottom Line

“The rapid slowdown in the domestic traffic recovery in August, owing to a spike in the Delta variant shows how exposed air travel continues to be to the cycles of COVID-19. For governments that should send two messages. The first is that this is not the time to step away from continuing support of the industry, both financial and regulatory. The second is the need to apply a risk-based approach to managing borders–as passengers are already doing in making their travel decisions,” said Walsh.

Next week, leaders of the global aviation community will gather in Boston at the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit, 3-5 October. “The AGM provides a powerful vote of confidence in the safety of international air travel and the health protocols that have now been in place for up to 18 months. I’ve said it before: virtual meetings are no substitute for the value delivered through the opportunity to meet face-to-face. The AGM will provide a powerful reminder of this fact,” said Walsh.

IATA: Air cargo up 7.7% in August versus pre-COVID levels; capacity lagging demand

IATA issued this report:

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released August 2021 data for global air cargo markets showing that demand continued its strong growth trend but pressure on capacity is rising.

As comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons below are to August 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), was up 7.7% compared to August 2019 (8.6% for international operations). Overall growth remains strong compared to the long-term average growth trend of around 4.7%.
  • The pace of growth slowed slightly compared to July, which saw demand increase 8.8% (against pre-COVID-19 levels).
  • Cargo capacity recovery paused in August, down 12.2% compared to August 2019 (‑13.2% for international operations). In month-on-month terms, capacity fell by 1.6% – the largest drop since January 2021.

Economic conditions continue to support air cargo growth but are slightly weaker than in the previous months indicating that global manufacturing growth has peaked:

  • The August manufacturing output component of the Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs) was 51.9, indicating a short-term boost to demand if those orders are shipped by air. This was a decline from 54.4 in July.
  • The August new export orders component of the PMIs was favorable for air cargo, despite being less supportive than in the previous months. Expansion continued at the global level, however, there was contraction in emerging economies.
  • The inventory-to-sales ratio remains low ahead of the peak year-end retail season. This is positive for air cargo, however further capacity constraints put this at risk.

“Air cargo demand had another strong month in August, up 7.7% compared to pre-COVID levels. Many of the economic indicators point to a strong year-end peak season. With international travel still severely depressed, there are fewer passenger planes offering belly capacity for cargo. And supply chain bottlenecks could intensify as businesses continue to ramp up production,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

AUGUST 2021
% VS AUGUST 2019
WORLDSHARE1 CTK ACTK CLF(%-PT)​2 CLF(LEVEL)​3
Total Market
100%
7.7%
-12.2%
10.0%
54.2%
Africa
2.0%
32.4%
-3.8%
11.8%
43.0%
Asia Pacific
32.6%
-2.1%
-28.1%
18.5%
69.8%
Europe
22.3%
6.3%
-12.1%
9.9%
57.5%
Latin America
2.4%
-13.2%
-20.0%
3.2%
40.4%
Middle East
13.0%
15.5%
-5.2%
9.4%
52.9%
North America
27.8%
19.3%
0.7%
6.8%
43.7%

(1) % of industry CTKs in 2020   (2) Change in load factor vs same month in 2019    (3) Load factor level

August Regional Performance 

 

Asia-Pacific airlines saw their international air cargo volumes increase 3.0% in August 2021 compared to the same month in 2019.This was a slowdown in demand compared to the previous month’s 4.4% expansion. Demand is being affected by an easing in growth momentum in key activity indicators in Asia, and by congested supply chains especially on Within Asia and Europe-Asia routes. International capacity is significantly constrained in the region, down 21.7% vs. August 2019.

North American carriers posted an 18% increase in international cargo volumes in August 2021 compared to August 2019. New export orders and demand for faster shipping times are underpinning the North American performance. The downside risk from capacity constraints is high; international cargo capacity remains restricted and many of the key air cargo hubs are reporting severe congestion, including Los Angeles and Chicago. International capacity decreased 6.6%.

European carriers saw a 6% increase in international cargo volumes in August 2021 compared to the same month in 2019. This was on a par with July’s performance. Manufacturing activity, orders and long supplier delivery times remain favorable to air cargo demand. International capacity decreased 13.6%.

Middle Eastern carriers experienced an 15.4% rise in international cargo volumes in August 2021 versus August 2019, an improvement compared to the previous month (13.4%). The large Middle East–Asia trade lanes continue to post strong performance. International capacity decreased 5.1%.

Latin American carriers reported a decline of 14% in international cargo volumes in August compared to the 2019 period, which was the weakest performance of all regions. Capacity remains significantly constrained in the region, with international capacity decreasing 27.1% in August, the largest fall of any region.

African airlines’ saw international cargo volumes increase by 33.9% in August, the largest increase of all regions. Investment flows along the Africa-Asia route continue to drive the regional outcomes with volumes on the route up 26.4% over two years ago. International capacity decreased 2.1%.

IATA: Blocked airline funds could slow recovery

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate close to nearly $1 billion in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.

“Governments are preventing nearly $1 billion of airline revenues from being repatriated. This contravenes international conventions and could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Airlines will not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations. That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritize ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently. Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Approximately $963 million in airline funds are being blocked from repatriation in nearly 20 countries. Four countries: Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million), account for over 60% of this total, although there has been positive progress in reducing blocked funds in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe of late.

“We encourage governments to work with industry to resolve the issues that are preventing airlines from repatriating funds. This will enable aviation to provide the connectivity needed to sustain jobs and energize economies as they recover from COVID-19,” said Walsh.

IATA: Airline Industry Statistics confirm 2020 was the worse year on record

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) publication with performance figures for 2020 demonstrating the devastating effects on global air transport during that year of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • 1.8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2% compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019
  • Industry-wide air travel demand (measured in revenue passenger-kilometers, or RPKs) dropped by 65.9% year-on-year
  • International passenger demand (RPKs) decreased by 75.6% compared to the year prior
  • Domestic air passenger demand (RPKs) dropped by 48.8% compared to 2019
  • Air connectivity declined by more than half in 2020 with the number of routes connecting airports falling dramatically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60% year-on-year in April 2020
  • Total industry passenger revenues fell by 69% to $189 billion in 2020, and net losses were $126.4 billion in total
  • The decline in air passengers transported in 2020 was the largest recorded since global RPKs started being tracked around 1950

“2020 was a year that we’d all like to forget. But analyzing the performance statistics for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance. At the depth of the crisis in April 2020, 66% of the world’s commercial air transport fleet was grounded as governments closed borders or imposed strict quarantines. A million jobs disappeared. And industry losses for the year totaled $126 billion. Many governments recognized aviation’s critical contributions and provided financial lifelines and other forms of support. But it was the rapid actions by airlines and the commitment of our people that saw the airline industry through the most difficult year in its history,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.


Key 2020 airline performance figures from WATS

Passenger

  • Systemwide, airlines carried 1.8 billion passengers on scheduled services, a decrease of 60.2% over 2019
  • On average, there was a $71.7 loss incurred per passenger in 2020, corresponding to net losses of $126.4 billion in total
  • Measured in ASKs (available seat kilometers), global airline capacity plummeted by 56.7%, with international capacity being hit the hardest with a reduction of 68.3%
  • Systemwide passenger load factor dropped to 65.1% in 2020, compared to 82.5% the year prior
  • The Middle East region suffered the largest proportion of loss for passenger traffic* with a drop of 71.5% in RPKs versus 2019, followed by Europe (-69.7%) and the Africa region (-68.5%)
  • China became the largest domestic market in 2020 for the first time on record, as air travel rebounded faster in their domestic market following their efforts to control COVID-19
  • The regional rankings (based on total passengers carried on scheduled services by airlines registered in that region) are:
  1. Asia-Pacific: 780.7 million passengers, a decrease of 53.4% compared to the region’s passengers in 2019
  2. North America: 401.7 million passengers, down 60.8% over 2019
  3. Europe: 389.9 million passengers, down 67.4% over 2019
  4. Latin America: 123.6 million passengers, down 60.6% over 2019
  5. Middle East: 8 million passengers, a decrease of 67.6% over 2019
  6. Africa: 34.3 million passengers, down 65.7% over 2019
  • The top five airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown, were:
  1. American Airlines (124 billion)
  2. China Southern Airlines (110.7 billion)
  3. Delta Air Lines (106.5 billion)
  4. United Airlines (100.2 billion)
  5. China Eastern Airlines (88.7 billion)
  • The top five route areas** by passenger demand (RPKs), with the largest drop being seen in routes within the Far East:
  1. Within Europe (290.3 million, down 70.7% from 2019)
  2. Europe – North America (122.9 million, decreased 80.4% from 2019)
  3. Within Far East (117.3 million, a decrease of 84.1% from 2019)
  4. Europe – Far East (115.3 million, a decrease of 79% from 2019)
  5. Middle East – Far East (104 million, down 73.6% from 2019)
  • The top five domestic passenger airport-pairs were all in Asia and outperformed top international routes as domestic recovery returned faster, particularly in China:
  1. Jeju – Seoul Gimpo (10.2 million, up 35.1% over 2019)
  2. Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City (5.9 million, an increase of 54.3% from 2019)
  3. Shanghai-Hongqiao – Shenzhen (3.7 million, up 43.4% from 2019)
  4. Beijing-Capital – Shanghai-Hongqiao (3.6 million, increased by 11.8% from 2019)
  5. Guangzhou – Shanghai-Hongqiao (3.5 million, up 41.2% from 2019)
  • The top five nationalities*** traveling by air (international) were:
  1. United States (45.7 million, or 9.7% of all passengers)
  2. United Kingdom (40.8 million, or 8.6% of all passengers)
  3. Germany (30.8 million, or 6.5% of all passengers)
  4. France (23.3 million, or 4.9% of all passengers)
  5. India (17.4 million, or 3.7% of all passengers)

Cargo

  • Air freight was the bright spot in air transport for 2020, as the market adapted to keep goods moving—including vaccines, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vital medical supplies—despite the massive drop in capacity from the bellies of passenger aircraft.
  • Industry-wide available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs) fell 21.4% year-on-year in 2020
  • This led to a capacity crunch, with the industry-wide cargo load factor up 7.0 percentage points to 53.8%. This is the highest value in the IATA series started in 1990.
  • At the end of the year, industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) had returned close to pre-crisis values. However, the yearly decline in cargo demand (CTKs) was still the largest since the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, at a sizeable 9.7% year-on-year in 2020.
  • The top five airlines ranked by scheduled cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs) flown were:
    1. Federal Express (19.7 billion)
    2. United Parcel Service (14.4 billion)
    3. Qatar Airways (13.7 billion)
    4. Emirates (9.6 billion)
    5. Cathay Pacific Airways (8.1 billion)

Airline Alliances

  • Star Alliance maintained its position as the largest airline alliance in 2020 with 18.7% of total scheduled traffic (in RPKs), followed by SkyTeam (16.3%) and oneworld (12.7%)

In other news, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger demand performance for June 2021 showing a very slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets. Demand remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions.

As comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are to June 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 60.1% compared to June 2019. That was a small improvement over the 62.9% decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019.
  • International passenger demand in June was 80.9% below June 2019, an improvement from the 85.4% decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to the slightly higher demand.
  • Total domestic demand was down 22.4% versus pre-crisis levels (June 2019), a slight gain over the 23.7% decline recorded in May 2021 versus the 2019 period. The performance across key domestic markets was mixed with Russia reporting robust expansion while China returned to negative territory.

“We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets. But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need to be. June should be the start of peak season, but airlines were carrying just 20% of 2019 levels. That’s not a recovery, it’s a continuing crisis caused by government inaction,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

International Passenger Markets

JUNE 2021
(% VS JUNE 2019)
WORLD SHARE​1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market
100.0%
-60.1%
-51.6%
-14.8%
69.6%
Africa
1.9%
-66.6%
-59.5%
-12.4%
58.7%
Asia Pacific
38.6%
-65.6%
-56.9%
-16.6%
65.7%
Europe
23.7%
-69.2%
-59.1%
-21.6%
65.8%
Latin America
5.7%
-50.2%
-47.1%
-4.8%
78.4%
Middle East
7.4%
-77.7%
-62.9%
-30.5%
45.9%
North America
22.7%
-36.2%
-29.6%
-8.3%
80.6%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

Asia-Pacific airlines’ June international traffic fell 94.6% compared to June 2019, unchanged from the 94.5% decline in May 2021 versus May 2019. The region had the steepest traffic declines for an eleventh consecutive month. Capacity dropped 86.7% and the load factor was down 48.3 percentage points to 33.1%, the lowest among regions.

European carriers saw their June international traffic decline 77.4% versus June 2019, a gain from the 85.5% decrease in May compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 67.3% and load factor fell 27.1 percentage points to 60.7%.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 79.4% demand drop in June compared to June 2019, improving from the 81.3% decrease in May, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 65.3% and load factor deteriorated 31.1 percentage points to 45.3%.

North American carriers’ June demand fell 69.6% compared to the 2019 period, improving from the 74.2% decline in May versus two years ago. Capacity sank 57.3%, and load factor dipped 25.3 percentage points to 62.6%.

Latin American airlines saw a 69.4% drop in June traffic compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 75.3% decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity fell 64.6% and load factor dropped 11.3 percentage points to 72.7%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic fell 68.2% in June versus the same month two years ago, an improvement from the 71.5% decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity contracted 60.0% versus June 2019, and load factor declined 14.5 percentage points to 56.5%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

JUNE 2021
(%VS JUNE 2019)
WORLD SHARE1​​ RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Domestic
54.3%
-22.4%
-15.5%
-6.9%
78.8%
Dom. Australia
0.7%
-40.7%
-28.5%
-13.3%
65.0%
Dom. Brazil
1.6%
-31.1%
-30.4%
-0.9%
80.9%
Dom. China P.R.
19.9%
-10.8%
-0.8%
-8.6%
76.2%
Dom India
2.1%
-70.8%
-59.1%
-25.8%
63.8%
Dom. Japan
1.5%
-67.6%
-45.1%
-29.2%
42.0%
Dom. Russian Fed.
3.4%
33.0%
39.4%
-4.0%
81.3%
Dom. US
16.6%
-14.9%
-11.2%
-3.8%
85.9%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

China’s domestic traffic returned to negative territory in June, declining 10.8% compared to June 2019, following a 6.3% growth in May versus the same period in 2019. New restrictions had been introduced following a COVID-19 outbreak in several Chinese cities.

US domestic traffic improved from a 25.4% decline in May versus the same month in 2019, to a 14.9% decline in June. Life in the US was starting to see some normalcy following the easing of measures and the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.

The Bottom Line

“With each passing day the hope of seeing a significant revival in international traffic during the Northern Hemisphere summer grows fainter. Many governments are not following the data or the science to restore the basic freedom of movement. Despite growing numbers of vaccinated people and improved testing capacity we are very close to losing another peak summer season on the important trans-Atlantic market. And the UK’s flip-flop to reinstate quarantine for vaccinated arrivals from France is the kind of policy development that destroys consumer confidence when it is most needed,” said Walsh.

“A risk-managed re-connecting of the world is what we need. Vaccinated travelers should have their freedom of movement returned. An efficient testing regime can sufficiently manage risks for those unable to be vaccinated. This is the underlying message in the latest WHO travel guidance. The UK, Singapore and Canada have indicated timelines to open their borders without quarantine for vaccinated travelers. The European Commission has recommended that its member states adopt travel protocols that are closely aligned with the WHO—including testing for unvaccinated travelers. Similar moves to re-open borders in line with the WHO guidance by US—leaders in vaccinating their populations—would give critical impetus to demonstrating that we can live and travel while managing the risks of COVID-19,” said Walsh.

Video:

IATA calls on states to follow WHO guidance on cross-border travel

IATA issued this statement:

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on states to follow new guidance on travel from the World Health Organization (WHO). The guidance recommends a “risk-based approach” to implementing measures related to COVID-19 and international travel.

Specifically, WHO recommended that governments:

  • Do not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit
  • May relax measures such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travelers who are fully vaccinated or have had a confirmed previous COVID-19 infection within the past six months and are no longer infectious.
  • Ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally. The WHO recommends rRT-PCR tests, or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) followed by confirmatory rRT-PCR tests of positive samples, for this purpose.
  • Implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travelers “on a risk-based manner” with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary.

“These commonsense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimizing the chance of importing COVID-19. As WHO notes—and as the latest UK testing data proves—international travelers are not a high-risk group in terms of COVID-19. Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the UK since February, only 1.4% were positive for COVID-19. It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making process for re-opening borders,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

WHO also called on states to communicate “in a timely and adequate manner” any changes to international health-related measures and requirements. “Consumers face a maze of confusing, uncoordinated and fast-changing border entry rules that discourage them from traveling, causing economic hardship across those employed in the travel and tourism sector. According to our latest passenger survey, 70% of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” said Walsh.

Additionally, WHO encouraged states to look at bilateral, multilateral, and regional agreements, particularly among neighboring counties, “with the aim of facilitating the recovery of key socioeconomic activities” including tourism, for which international travel plays a vital role.

“The pandemic has put more than 46 million jobs, normally supported by aviation, at risk. By incorporating these latest WHO recommendations into their border opening strategies, states can begin to reverse the economic damage of the past 18 months and put the world on the road to recovery,“ said Walsh.

Our Take:

International airline travel is increasingly becoming more reactive to where COVID-19 cases are rising or in decline. The roll-out of vaccines on a worldwide basis will also affect each country. International airlines therefore will become more reactive to the various changes country by country.

The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard.

The BBC monitors the worldwide situation:

Covid map: Coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccinations by country – BBC News

The New York Times also monitors the worldwide situation:

 

Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Finally the John Hopkins University has been the standard for worldwide tracking:

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

 

Aviation, travel and tourism sectors applaud EU Parliament vote on “EU COVID-19 Certificates”

IATA has made this announcement:

Setting Final Negotiations with European Commission and Council into Motion

  • Swift alignment by all three EU Institutions critical in restoring free movement for EU citizens by summer.
  • A clear, simple and harmonized European approach is desperately needed to reopen travel in a safe and responsible way.

Europe’s aviation, travel and tourism sectors fully welcome yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament on the EU’s proposed Digital Green Certificate Regulation, setting trilogue negotiations between the Parliament, the Council and the European Commission into motion. Swift action and alignment among the institutions is now critical in order to make the certificates operational by June and ensure reciprocity with non-EU systems. Common, interoperable, secure and GDPR-compliant health certificates represent an essential tool to facilitate the free movement of people within the EU and reopen travel in a safe and responsible way through the easing, and ultimately lifting of current travel restrictions.

The Parliament position brings forward important changes to the original proposal:

  • A new name, “EU COVID-19 Certificate” has been agreed to make it clearer to EU citizens and also limit the certificates’ use to during the pandemic.
  • Free and accessible testing: Testing is absolutely key in the fight against COVID-19, and the requirement to conduct pre-departure tests (often PCR) should not create an economic distortion between travelers. With tests ranging from €10 to €150, it is clear that such high costs could become a deterrent to travel – in particular among families.
  • Full equality among vaccinated and tested citizens: No additional measures such as quarantine or further testing should be imposed on travelers presenting a valid “EU COVID-19 Certificate”.

The proposed amendments send a strong political message from the Parliament on the urgency to restore free movement in the EU. This is not a privilege — it is a right as one of the pillars of the single market enshrined in the European treaties. Safely and swiftly re-establishing free movement is both possible and vitally important – not only for holidaymakers, but also for cross-border workers and citizens who will be able to visit their families more easily once the certificates are operational. Vaccination drives in Europe continue to gain momentum, with 26.5% of EU citizens having received at least one dose, compared with 16% four weeks ago.

According to a recent IATA survey, 72% of people want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible. The sectors therefore urge swift negotiations and agreement by mid-May so that pilot testing and full implementation can take place in June. Time is of the essence, to offer EU citizens a much-needed breather after a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions which have negatively impacted consumers’ mental health and well-being. Multiple studies  show that travel has positive effects on mental and physical health thanks to human and nature connections, boosting people’s energy and relieving stress and anxiety.

Airlines to recover after a “Longer and Deeper Crisis” in 2021

From CompanyDebt:

Here are the key facts:

  • IATA, the International Air Travel Association, has warned that 2021 will mean global losses of $47.7bn for airlines.
  • January and February figures were down 86.6 percent on 2019 levels.
  • Airline Industry Debt could rise to $550bn by end of the year.
  • The second half of the year will see improved passenger levels, as a result of vaccination progress in developed countries.
  • Domestic flights may reach 96% of pre-COVID levels by the end of the year.

Read the full article.

IATA: Negative passenger demand trend continues in February

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that passenger traffic fell in February 2021, both compared to pre-COVID levels (February 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (January 2021).

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to February 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand for air travel in February 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 74.7% compared to February 2019. That was worse than the 72.2% decline recorded in January 2021 versus two years ago.
  • International passenger demand in February was 88.7% below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7% year-to-year decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
  • Total domestic demand was down 51.0% versus pre-crisis (February 2019) levels. In January it was down 47.8% on the 2019 period. This largely was owing to weakness in China travel, driven by government requests that citizens stay at home during the Lunar New Year travel period.

“February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel. In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants. An important exception was the Australian domestic market. A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel. This tells us that people have not lost their desire travel. They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

FEBRUARY 2021 (% VS FEB 2019) WORLD SHARE1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market
100.0%
-74.7%
-63.1%
-25.3%
55.4%
Africa
1.9%
-66.1%
-53.6%
-19.0%
51.6%
Asia Pacific
38.6%
-74.9%
-64.8%
-23.8%
59.1%
Europe
23.6%
-82.8%
-75.0%
-25.4%
56.3%
Latin America
5.7%
-62.4%
-55.1%
-13.3%
68.3%
Middle East
7.4%
-81.7%
-66.8%
-32.5%
39.8%
North America
22.7%
-66.1%
-48.1%
-27.9%
52.7%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

International Passenger Markets

Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic was down 95.2% compared to February 2019, little changed from the 94.8% decline registered for January 2021 compared to January 2019. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for an eighth consecutive month. Capacity was down 87.5% and the load factor sank 50.0 percentage points to 31.1%, the lowest among regions.

European carriers recorded an 89.0% decline in traffic in February versus February 2019, substantially worse than the  83.4% decline in January compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity sank 80.5% and load factor fell by 36.0 percentage points to 46.4%.

Middle Eastern airlines saw demand fall 83.1% in February compared to February 2019, worsened from an 82.1% demand drop in January, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity fell 68.6%, and load factor declined 33.4 percentage points to 39.0%.

North American carriers’ February traffic sank 83.1% compared to the 2019 period, a deterioration from a 79.2% decline in January year to year. Capacity sagged 63.9%, and load factor dropped 41.9 percentage points to 36.7%.

Latin American airlines experienced an 83.5% demand drop in February, compared to the same month in 2019, markedly worse than the 78.5% decline in January 2019. February capacity was 75.4% down compared to February 2019 and load factor dropped 26.7 percentage points to 54.6%, highest among the regions for a fifth consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic dropped 68.0% in February versus February two years ago, which was a setback compared to a 66.1% decline recorded in January compared to January 2019. February capacity contracted 54.6% versus February 2019, and load factor fell 20.5 percentage points to 49.1%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

FEBRUARY 2021 (%VS FEB 2019) WORLD SHARE1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Domestic
54.3%
-51.04%
-37.1%
-18.3%
64.3%
Dom. Australia
0.7%
-60.5%
-59.4%
-2.1%
75.8%
Dom. Brazil
1.6%
-34.9%
-30.3%
-5.4%
77.0%
Dom. China P.R.
19.9%
-51.2%
-34.7%
-22.2%
65.5%
Dom India
2.1%
-30.8%
-17.5%
-14.4%
74.9%
Dom. Japan
1.4%
-72.8%
-59.4%
-23.7%
48.1%
Dom. Russian Fed.
3.4%
2.9%
-5.4%
6.7%
83.4%
Dom. US
16.6%
-56.1%
-38.3%
-23.5%
58.0%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

Australia’s domestic traffic was down 60.5% in February compared to February 2019, dramatically improved compared to the 77.3% decline in January over 2019. Some state border restrictions were eased in early February.

US domestic traffic declined 56.1% in February versus the same month in 2019, improved from the 58.4% decline in January compared to two years ago. The improvement was driven by falling rates of contagion and accelerating vaccinations.

The Bottom Line

“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated that vaccinated individuals can travel safely. That is good news. We have also recently seen Oxera-Edge Health research highlighting the efficacy of fast, accurate and affordable rapid tests for COVID-19. These developments should reassure governments that there are ways to efficiently manage the risks of COVID-19 without relying on demand-killing quarantine measures and/or expensive and time-consuming PCR testing,” said Walsh.

“Two key components for an efficient restart of travel need to be urgently progressed. The first is the development of global standards for digital COVID-19 test and/or vaccination certificates. The second is government agreement to accept certificates digitally. Our experiences to date already demonstrate that paper-based systems are not a sustainable option. They are vulnerable to fraud. And, even with the limited amount of flying today, the check-in process needs pre-COVID-19 staffing levels just to handle the paperwork.
Paper processes will not be sustainable when travel ramps up. The IATA Travel Pass app was developed precisely in anticipation of this need to manage health credentials digitally. Its first full implementation trial is focused on Singapore, where the government has already announced that it will accept health certificates through the app. This will be an essential consideration for all governments when they are ready to relink their economies with the world through air travel,” said Walsh.

IATA: From Bad to Worse: January Passenger Demand Falls Further

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that passenger traffic fell in January 2021, both compared to pre-COVID levels (January 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (December 2020).

Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to January 2019 which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand in January 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 72.0% compared to January 2019. That was worse than the 69.7% year-over-year decline recorded in December 2020.
  • Total domestic demand was down 47.4% versus pre-crisis (January 2019) levels. In December it was down 42.9% on the previous year. This weakening is largely driven by stricter domestic travel controls in China over the Lunar New Year holiday period.
  • International passenger demand in January was 85.6% below January 2019, a further drop compared to the 85.3% year-to-year decline recorded in December.

“2021 is starting off worse than 2020 ended and that is saying a lot. Even as vaccination programs gather pace, new COVID variants are leading governments to increase travel restrictions. The uncertainty around how long these restrictions will last also has an impact on future travel. Forward bookings in February this year for the Northern Hemisphere summer travel season were 78% below levels in February 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

JANUARY 2021 (%CHG. VS 2019) WORLD SHARE1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Total Market
100.0%
-72.0%
-58.7%
-25.7%
54.1%
Africa
1.9%
-63.9%
-53.0%
-16.4%
54.4%
Asia Pacific
38.6%
-71.5%
-59.0%
-24.8%
56.6%
Europe
23.7%
-77.4%
-68.7%
-22.4%
57.6%
Latin America
5.7%
-58.0%
-49.5%
-13.9%
68.5%
Middle East
7.4%
-80.7%
-65.8%
-32.4%
42.2%
North America
22.7%
-67.5%
-46.5%
-31.2%
48.4%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

International Passenger Markets

Asia-Pacific airlines’ January traffic plummeted 94.6% compared to the 2019 period, virtually unchanged from the 94.4% decline registered for December 2020 compared to a year ago. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for a seventh consecutive month. Capacity dropped 86.5% and load factor sank 49.4 percentage points to 32.6%, by far the lowest among regions.

European carriers had an 83.2% decline in traffic in January versus January 2019, worsened from an 82.6% decline in December compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity sank 73.6% and load factor fell by 29.2 percentage points to 51.4%.

Middle Eastern airlines saw demand plunge 82.3% in January compared to January 2019, which was broadly unchanged from an 82.6% demand drop in December versus a year ago. Capacity fell 67.6%, and load factor declined 33.9 percentage points to 40.8%.

North American carriers’ January traffic fell 79.0% compared to the 2019 period, up slightly from a 79.5% decline in December year to year. Capacity sagged 60.5%, and load factor dropped 37.8 percentage points to 42.9%.

Latin American airlines experienced a 78.5% demand drop in January, compared to the same month in 2019, worsened from a 76.2% decline in December year-to-year. January capacity was 67.9% down compared to January 2019 and load factor dropped 27.2 percentage points to 55.3%, highest among the regions for a fourth consecutive month.

African airlines’ traffic dropped 66.1% in January, which was a modest improvement compared to a 68.8% decline recorded in December versus a year ago. January capacity contracted 54.2% versus January 2019, and load factor fell 18.4 percentage points to 52.3%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

JANUARY 2021 (%CHG. VS 2019) WORLD SHARE1 RPK ASK PLF (%-PT)​2 PLF (LEVEL)​3
Domestic
54.3%
-47.4%
-30.5%
-19.3%
60.1%
Dom. Australia
0.7%
-81.6%
-77.8%
-13.3%
64.8%
Dom. Brazil
1.6%
-31.4%
-29.4%
-2.4%
81.6%
Dom. China P.R.
19.9%
-33.9%
-15.1%
-18.2%
64.0%
Dom India
2.1%
-37.6%
-22.5%
-16.8%
69.3%
Dom. Japan
1.5%
-71.3%
-39.9%
-35.0%
31.9%
Dom. Russian Fed.
3.4%
5.5%
-0.7%
4.7%
80.1%
Dom. US
16.6%
-60.3%
-37.8%
-28.7%
50.5%

1) % of industry RPKs in 2020    2) Change in load factor vs. the same month in 2019    3) Load Factor Level

China’s domestic traffic was down 33.9% in January compared to January 2019, dramatically worsened compared to the 8.5% year-over-year decline in December. The fall was owing to stricter traffic controls ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday period amid several localized COVID-19 outbreaks.

Russia’s domestic traffic, by contrast, rose 5.5% compared to January 2019, a turnaround from the 12.0% year-to-year decline in December versus the same month in 2019. It was driven by a fall in COVID-19 cases since a peak late in December and by national holidays in the first week of the month.

The Bottom Line

“To say that 2021 has not gotten off to a good start is an understatement. Financial prospects for the year are worsening as governments tighten travel restrictions. We now expect the industry to burn through $75-$95 billion in cash this year, rather than turning cash positive in the fourth quarter, as previously thought. This is not something that the industry will be able to endure without additional relief measures from governments.

Increased testing capability and vaccine distribution are the keys for governments to unlock economic activity, including travel. It is critical that governments build and share their restart plans along with the benchmarks that will guide them. This will enable the industry to be prepared to energize the recovery without any unnecessary delay,” said de Juniac.

Global standards to securely record test and vaccination data in formats that will be internationally recognized are urgently needed. “These will be critical to restarting international travel if governments continue to require verified testing or vaccination data. IATA will soon launch the IATA Travel Pass to help travelers and governments manage digital health credentials. But the full benefit of IATA Travel Pass cannot be realized until governments agree the standards for the information they want,” said de Juniac.