Aviation Industry Loses 20 Years to Covid-19
Global aviation data firm Cirium has released its annual Airline Insights Review which reveals the shocking impact on aviation of worldwide Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The report shows that the pandemic and its consequences wiped out 21 years of global aviation growth in a matter of months, reducing passenger numbers this year to levels last seen in 1999. Passenger traffic was down 67 percent in 2020.
At the peak of the disruption, scheduled passenger flights dropped significantly to just 13,600 globally on April 25th, compared to the busiest day of the year on January 3rd, when Cirium tracked over 95,000 scheduled passenger flights.
This marks an extraordinary 86 percent reduction in flights. From January to December airlines operated 49 percent fewer flights in 2020 compared to 2019 – down from 33.2 million flights to just 16.8 million (to December 20th).
Domestic travel was down 40 percent this year, from 21.5 million flights in 2019, while international flights suffered an even more precipitous drop as they were 68 percent below the 11.7 million flights tracked the year before.
Global passenger traffic figures reveal a plunge of over two thirds (67 percent) versus the previous year, with Asia-Pacific continuing to handle over a third of world passenger traffic.
The majority of the scheduled passenger flights flown this year have been domestic – totalling 13 million (77 percent) with a mere 3.8 million (23 percent) flying internationally, due to closed borders and limited business travel.
Cirium data analysis recorded Southwest Airlines operating the most flights globally (and in North America), with 869,800 flights in total.
Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines (500,700 flights) topped the tables in the Asia-Pacific, Ryanair in Europe (207,000 flights), Azul in Latin America (138,500 flights) and Qatar Airways (84,100 flights) in the Middle East and Africa.
On the ground, Atlanta was the world’s busiest airport, handling over 250,800 arriving flights during 2020, while the world’s busiest air route in both directions was within South Korea, between Seoul and the island of Jeju with 71,900 flights operated.
Forward planning for airlines has dramatically contracted from six- to 12-months for flight scheduling to just six- to eight-weeks – forcing carriers to be nimbler and adapt with greater speed to the rapidly changing rules and travel restrictions around the world.