African airlines’ traffic sinks after slight improvement

posted on 5th January 2021 by Eddie Saunders
African airlines' traffic sinks after slight improvement

By Carin Smith,

African airlines’ traffic sank 78.6% in October 2020, improved from an 84.9% drop in September, according to the latest update from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Capacity on the continent contracted 67.5% in October compared to September, and the load factor fell 23.8 percentage points to 45.5%.

“This crisis is unrelenting. Our latest economic outlook is for airlines [globally] to lose $118.5 billion this year, or $66 for every passenger carried. Assuming borders re-open by mid-2021, the industry will ‘only’ lose $38.7 billion in 2021. Now is the time for governments to step up,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“The $173 billion of support provided to date has enabled the [global] industry to survive, but more is required to carry the industry through to next [Northern Hemisphere] summer. 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, in his view.

IATA data shows that in October 2020 total global demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 70.6% compared to October 2019. This was just a modest improvement from the 72.2% year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was down 59.9% compared to a year ago and load factor fell 21.8 percentage points to 60.2%.

Globally, international passenger demand in October 2020 was down 87.8% compared to October 2019, virtually unchanged from the 88.0% year-to-year decline recorded in September. Capacity was 76.9% below previous year levels, and load factor shrank 38.3 percentage points to 42.9%.

“Domestic demand drove what little recovery there was, with October domestic traffic down 40.8% compared to the prior year. This was improved from a 43.0% year-to-year decline in September. Capacity was 29.7% below 2019 levels and the load factor dropped 13.2 percentage points to 70.4%,” states IATA. “Fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 and governments’ continued reliance on heavy-handed quarantines resulted in another catastrophic month for air travel demand. While the pace of recovery is faster in some regions than others, the overall picture for international travel is grim.”