The statistics reveal the drastic and harsh effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on global air transport.
According to the data, 1.8 billion passengers took air flights in the year 2020, which was significantly less by 60.2% than in 2019. In 2019, the figures were 4.5 billion. Moreover, Industry-wide air travel demand which is calculated in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) also declined by 65.9 percent year on year.
This is the sharpest fall in the RPKs since it started being tracked back in 1950. Air connectivity dropped by more than half in 2020 with the number of routes connecting airports falling drastically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60% year-on-year in April 2020.
In the publication, the Middle-East region suffered the most loss. The passengers carried in 2020 were only 8 million, 67.6% less than in 2019. The Middle East also took a huge toll on the RPKs as it saw a drop of more than 71% by 2019.
The next areas in the list of most affected were Europe with RPKs 69.7% lesser and the Africa region with 68.5% lesser RPKs than 2019. The Asia-Pacific region, which is considered to be the busiest, saw a decline of 53.4% in terms of passengers carried than in 2019 as it managed to transport only 780.7 million travelers.
When it comes to individual airlines, American Airlines traveled 124 billion kilometers, the highest amongst its counterparts followed by Chinese Southern Airlines with 110 billion kilometers and Delta Airlines (USA) with 106.5 billion kilometers.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said, “2020 was a year that we’d all like to forget. But analyzing the data and performance for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance and how to keep fighting throughout.”
He added, “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.”
“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”, Walsh concluded.
However, air freight was the only silver lining in air transport for 2020. During the tough and challenging times, the airlines adapted to keep goods moving including vaccines, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, and vital medical supplies to the places that needed help despite the massive drop in capacity from the bellies of passenger aircraft.
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