Global aviation industry to lose USD 201 billion between 2020-22 on pandemic turbulence: IATA

In India, domestic air traffic is slowly picking up and currently, around 70 per cent of pre-COVID domestic flights are being operated.
For representational purposes (Photo | Ashitha Jayaprakash, Online Desk)
For representational purposes (Photo | Ashitha Jayaprakash, Online Desk)

BOSTON: The global aviation industry will incur a whopping loss of USD 201 billion between 2020 and 2022 on strong pandemic headwinds before returning to profitability in 2023, according to international airlines' body IATA.

"We are past the deepest point of the crisis. While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view," Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Assocation (IATA), said on Monday.

Speaking at the 77th annual general meeting of IATA here, Walsh stressed that nearly two years after the onset of the COVID crisis, there is no rationale for blanket border restrictions imposed by various governments and added that there are improvements in finances.

"We expect 2021 losses to be nearly USD 52 billion -- cut dramatically from the USD 138 billion lost in 2020. Losses will further reduce in 2022 -- to about USD 12 billion.

In total, the COVID-19 crisis will cost aviation USD 201 billion in losses before we return to profitability in 2023," Walsh said.

The pandemic has ravaged the aviation industry worldwide, including India, especially as travel restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections sapped demand and the situation has been slowly improving in recent months.

In India, domestic air traffic is slowly picking up and currently, around 70 per cent of pre-COVID domestic flights are being operated.

Scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the pandemic while special flights are operational bilateral "air bubble" arrangements with around 28 countries.

According to aviation industry sources, just around 20 per cent of pre-COVID international flights are being operated from India right now.

IATA said that overall global revenues this year are expected to grow 26.7 per cent compared to 2020 to USD 472 billion, similar to 2009 levels.

"Further, growth of 39.3 per cent in 2022 will see industry revenues rise to USD 658 billion (similar to 2011 levels)".

This year, the global airlines' grouping said the passenger business will contribute USD 227 billion to the industry revenues and then rise to USD 378 billion in 2022.

Further, IATA noted that Asia-Pacific carriers are expected to see losses diminish from USD 11.2 billion this year to USD 2.4 billion in 2022.

"The region continues to suffer some of the most draconian travel restrictions.

While there has been some alleviation in restrictions, significant improvements in international markets are not expected until later in 2022," it added.

IATA Deputy Director General Conrad Clifford said international air travel continues to remain in deep crisis and will be just 22 per cent in 2021 as compared to the 2019 levels.

"The lack of harmonised border measures, restrictions and procedures is a major cause of the failure to restart (international) travel," he added.

Walsh said it is also clear that digital health credentials -- documentation of vaccination or testing status -- will be needed as borders re-open.

"Experience even at today's low levels of travel tells us that there will be chaos in airports if we rely on paper processes".

Noting that Europe has made a good start, Walsh said, "the EU Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC) is an efficient and reliable standard to record test and vaccination status.

If governments are looking for a standard to follow, this is our recommendation".

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The New Indian Express