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Coronavirus causes slowest traffic growth in a decade: IATA

written by Dylan Nicholson | March 5, 2020

New figures released by the International Air Transport Association for January show the slowest traffic growth since 2010’s volcanic ash crisis.

Alexandre de Juniac, the organisation’s chief executive, warned the worrying figures were just the “tip of the iceberg” because most coronavirus travel bans didn’t start until the end of the month.

He said, “Major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January. Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade.”

International Air Transport Association chief executive Alexandre de Juniac

The statement comes after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for January 2020 showed that demand climbed 2.4 per cent compared with January 2019, with impacts from COVID-19 beginning to show.

This was down from 4.6 per cent year-on-year growth for the prior month and is the lowest monthly increase since April 2010, during the volcanic ash crisis in Europe.

De Juniac warned that there was more to come.

“January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.


De Juniac went on to outline the growing fears of the greater impacts occurring in the industry and called on governments to be co-operative in their response with industry.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis that is testing the resilience not only of the airline industry but of the global economy,” he said.

“Airlines are experiencing double-digit declines in demand, and on many routes, traffic has collapsed. Aircraft are being parked, and employees are being asked to take unpaid leave.

“In this emergency, governments need to consider the maintenance of air transport links in their response.

“Suspension of the 80/20 slot use rule and relief on airport fees at airports where demand has disappeared are two important steps that can help ensure that airlines are positioned to provide support during the crisis and eventually in the recovery.”

January international passenger demand rose 2.5 per cent compared with January 2019, down from 3.7 per cent growth the previous month.

With the exception of Latin America, all regions recorded increases, led by airlines in Africa and the Middle East that saw minimal impact from the COVID-19 outbreak in January.

Demand for domestic travel climbed 2.3 per cent in January compared with January 2019, as strong growth in the US helped mitigate the impact from a steep decline in China’s domestic traffic.


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