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News Article

Aviation Sees Small Summer Recovery

By Alicia Arizpe | Wed, 09/30/2020 - 13:16

Recent figures from international aviation bodies point to a slower-than-expected recovery in the sector. The crisis threatening the industry puts millions of jobs at risk, explains the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).

On Tuesday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) updated its full-year traffic projections for 2020 to reflect poor results from the summer season. The association had previously estimated that global traffic would see a 63 percent contraction in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but after considering data from the summer months, it readjusted its projections to a 66 percent contraction. The sector has seen a gradual recovery from March, when it saw its lowest point of history, but the reinstatement of COVID-19 containment measures and the prevalent fear of exposure have kept demand down. In August 2020, demand for air travel measured in revenue passenger kilometers was at -75.3 percent of the levels it saw the previous year, a small step up from July’s 79.5 percent year-on-year contraction. “August’s disastrous traffic performance puts a cap on the industry’s worst-ever summer season,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.

These numbers threaten millions of jobs, warned ATAG today. “Our analysis shows that up to 4.8 million jobs in aviation may be lost by the beginning of next year, a 43 percent reduction from pre-COVID-19 levels. When you expand those effects across all the jobs aviation would normally support, 46 million jobs are at risk,” said Michael Gill, Executive Director of ATAG.

Latin America has been among the regions most hit by the outbreak, reporting a drop in demand of 82.8 percent year-on-year in August. The region’s international aviation took the heaviest hit with a 93.4 percent contraction that month, only slightly larger than the 94.9 percent drop the industry saw in July.

Mexican airlines, however, seem to be faring better than the region’s average. Low-cost airlines Volaris and Viva Aerobus reported a 31.6 and 33.4 percent year-on-year contraction in demand during August, respectively. Having said that, these two airlines highlihgt a double-digit recovery in August in comparison to July 2020, 21.8 and 39 percent respectively. Mexico’s flagship airline Aeroméxico also reported a 25.5 percent increase in passenger traffic from July to August although its demand shrunk by 62.9 percent year-on-year during the latter month. Lower demand has led Grupo Aeroméxico to negotiate the layoff of 616 flight attendants with its union.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer