April ‘cruelest’ month for aviation, says IATA
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - June 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) dubbed April as the “cruelest” month for aviation as passenger demand posted a rate of decline never seen in the history of its traffic series that dates back to 1990.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw April traffic plummet by 98 percent compared to the same month last year, which was worse from the 70.2 percent drop recorded in March.

IATA said capacity fell by 95 percent and load factor shrank by nearly 50 percentage points to 31.3 percent.

Globally, IATA said passenger demand in April plunged by 94.3 percent year-on-year as the COVID-19-related travel restrictions virtually shut down domestic and international air travel.

According to IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped.

“For aviation, April was our cruelest month. Governments had to take drastic action to slow the pandemic. But that has come with the economic cost of a traumatic global recession,” De Juniac said.

IATA calculated that by the first week of April, governments in 75 percent of the markets tracked by the organization completely banned entry, while an additional 19 percent had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals.

“But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time – possibly years – to mature,” De Juniac said.

In the Philippines, international and domestic passenger flights were suspended for the entire month of April.

Local carriers Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia Philippines were only given the go signal to resume passenger services this month.

However, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia said they would only restart with limited number of domestic flights and international services yet for June.

“Airlines will be key to the economic recovery. It is vital that the aviation industry is ready with bio-safety measures that passengers and air transport workers have confidence in. That’s why the speedy implementation of International Civil Aviation Organization’s global guidelines for safely re-starting aviation is the top priority,” De Juniac said.

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