Airlines are projected to lose US$66 for every passenger carried for the rest of this year due to what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) describes as the "unrelenting" nature of the crisis faced by airline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The projected loss translates into US$118.5 billion this year for airlines. The losses may, however, reduce significantly next year if countries re-open their borders to travelers by Mid-2021.
"Assuming borders re-open by mid-2021, the industry will 'only' lose US$38.7 billion in 2021. Now is the time for governments to step up. The US$173 billion of support provided to date has enabled the industry to survive, but more is required to carry the industry through to next 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," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.
Total demand 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%.
International passenger demand in October 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%.
"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.
This uneven recovery is more pronounced in domestic markets, with China's domestic market having nearly recovered, while most others remain deeply depressed," de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO added.
African airlines' traffic sank 78.6% in October, improved from an 84.9% drop in September and was the best performance among the regions. Capacity contracted 67.5%, and load factor fell 23.8 percentage points to 45.5%.