The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated a $29.3 billion loss of revenue globally for airlines in 2020, as a result of COVID-19.
The number represents a 4.7% drop in global demand, against the 4.1% growth forecast by IATA in December.
Asia-Pacific airlines would be hardest hit due to the Wuhan outbreak, with a potential contraction of 8.2% compared to 2019 figures—mainly hitting airlines registered in China.
“These are challenging times for the global air transport industry,” said IATA Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac. “Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority.
Credit: eberhard grossgasteiger
“Airlines are following the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health authorities to keep passengers safe, the world connected, and the virus contained.”
Airlines are making “difficult decisions” to cut capacity and even certain routes, said de Juniac, noting that lower fuel costs would help to offset some of the lost revenue.
IATA’s figures are based on the scenario of COVID-19 having a similar impact to the SARS virus in 2003. However, it cautioned that predictions about global profitability for airlines in 2020 remain “premature”.