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Published on Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IATA: 2020 officially worst year ever for airlines

Data captured for the International Air Transport Association's World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) publication confirmed 2020 as the worst year on record.

The performance figures for 2020 demonstrated a decline in air passenger unmatched since global RPKs started being tracked around 1950.

 It found 1.8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a global decrease of 60.2% compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019.

Industry-wide air travel demand (in revenue passenger-kilometres, or RPKs) dropped by 65.9% year-on-year.

It says air connectivity declined by more than half in 2020, with the number of routes connecting airports falling dramatically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60% year-on-year in April 2020.

Total industry passenger revenues fell by 69% to $189 billion in 2020, and net losses were $126.4 billion in total.

"2020 was a year that we'd all like to forget but analysing the performance statistics for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance. At the depth of the crisis in April 2020, 66% of the world's commercial air transport fleet was grounded," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

The Middle East region suffered the largest proportion of loss for passenger traffic with a drop of 71.5% in RPKs compared to 2019, followed by Europe (-69.7%) and the Africa region (-68.5%)

The pandemic led to China becoming the largest domestic market in 2020 for the first time on record, as air travel rebounded faster in their domestic market.


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