Demand for air travel in July fell 80% year on year, but is slowly recovering, new Iata figures reveal.
Global air traffic fell 79.8% below July 2019 levels, however this was an improvement on June, when demand was down 86.6%. July capacity was 70% below 2019 levels, with load factors at a record low for the month at just 57.9%.
“The crisis in demand continued with little respite in July,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata director general and chief executive. “Quarantine measures, in particular, are keeping aviation, travel and tourism effectively in lockdown.
“With essentially four in five air travellers staying home, the industry remains largely paralysed. Governments reopening and then closing borders or removing and then re-imposing quarantines does not give many consumers confidence to make travel plans, nor airlines to rebuild schedules.”
In Europe, July demand fell 87% compared to last year, improved from a 96.7% drop in June, reflecting relaxation of travel restrictions in the Schengen Area. Capacity dropped 79.2% and load factors fell by 33.8 percentage points to 55.1%.
The figures include domestic and international travel, but Iata said international air traffic in July had been 91.9% below 2019 levels.
“Protecting their citizens must be the top priority of governments. But too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution,” said de Juniac.
He added: “If this continues, the damage to global connectivity could become irreparable, which will generate its own severe consequences for economies and public health.”
De Juniac called for a globally agreed testing programme to restore traveller confidence and for financial aid for airlines. He also said the ‘use it or lose it’ slot rule, where airlines must return slots at airports if they do not use them 80% of the time, had to be changed in Europe.
“Europe is underestimating the challenge and dragging its feet. Somehow, they believe that demand could rebound to 75% or even 85% of last year’s levels by early 2021. That is much more optimistic than any industry forecast, or the evolution of traffic seen over the peak summer season.
“And their intention to provide a response only in mid-October gives precious little time for airlines and airports to plan.”