The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that global air passenger demand in May measured in revenue passenger kilometres dropped 91.3 per cent as compared to the same period last year. This was a mild uptick from the 94 per cent annual decline recorded in April this year. The improvement was driven by a recovery in some domestic markets, most notably China.
“May was not quite as terrible as April. That is about the best thing that can be said. As predicted, the first improvements in passenger demand are occurring in domestic markets,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.
“International traffic remained virtually stopped in May. We are only at the very beginning of a long and difficult recovery. And there is tremendous uncertainty about what impact a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in key markets could have,” he said in a statement.
May international passenger demand fell 98.3 per cent compared to May 2019 which was virtually unchanged from the 98.4 per cent decline recorded in April.
Capacity plummeted 95.3 per cent and load factor sank 51.9 percentage points to 28.6 per cent, meaning a bit more than a quarter of seats were filled on average.
European carriers’ May demand contracted 98.7 per cent compared to last year, virtually unchanged from a 98.9 per cent drop in April year-over-year and the worst decline among regions. Capacity dropped 97.5 per cent and load factor fell by 41.7 percentage points to 42.4 per cent.
Asia Pacific airlines’ May traffic plunged 98 per cent compared to the year-ago period, also in line with a 98.2 per cent recorded in April. Capacity fell 95.1 per cent and load factor shrank 46.6 percentage points to 32.1 per cent.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 98 per cent traffic contraction for May compared with a 97.3 per cent demand drop in April. Capacity tumbled 93.9 per cent and load factor sagged to 23.9 per cent, down 49.1 percentage points compared to the year-ago period.
North American carriers had a 98.2 per cent traffic decline in May, little changed from a 98.4 per cent decline in April. Capacity fell 94.5 per cent and load factor dropped 56.7 percentage points to 27.2 per cent.
Latin American airlines experienced a 98.1 per cent demand drop in May compared to the same month last year versus a 98.2 per cent drop in April. Capacity fell 96.6 per cent and load factor fell 38.1 percentage points to 45.9 per cent, best among the regions.
African airlines’ traffic sank 98.2 per cent in May, fractionally improved from a 98.7 per cent decline in April. Capacity contracted 77.8 per cent which was the smallest supply reduction among the regions, and load factor dived 61.8 percentage points to just 5.3 per cent of seats filled which was the lowest among regions.
On the other hand, domestic traffic fell by 79.2 per cent in May. This was an improvement compared to an 86.2 per cent decline in April. Domestic capacity fell 69.2 per cent and load factor dropped 27.2 percentage points to 56.9 per cent.
China’s carriers posted a 49.9 per cent year-on-year decline in traffic in May, significantly improved from the 64.6 per cent demand drop recorded in April. However, the improvement has been more recently interrupted by flight cancellations to and from Beijing amid an increase in the number of new infections in the city.
US airlines’ domestic traffic was down 89.5 per cent in May, an improvement over the 95.6 per cent decline experienced in April. However, the recent rise in infection rates in key US states following the lifting of lockdown restrictions could negatively impact the budding recovery.