Airline Industry is expected to lose US$84 billion in 2020 according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which has just released its financial outlook for the global air transport industry.
The net profit margin will plummet to -20.1 percent with revenues crashing 50 percent to $419 billion from $838 billion in 2019.
In 2021, losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion.
“Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation. On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. In total that’s a loss of $84.3 billion. It means that—based on an estimate of 2.2 billion passengers this year—airlines will lose $37.54 per passenger. That’s why government financial relief was and remains crucial as airlines burn through cash,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“Provided there is not a second and more damaging wave of COVID-19, the worst of the collapse in traffic is likely behind us. A key to the recovery is the universal implementation of the re-start measures agreed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to keep passengers and crew safe. And, with the help of effective contact tracing, these measures should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine measures. That’s an important part of the economic recovery because about 10% of the world’s GDP is from tourism and much of that depends on air travel. Getting people safely flying again will be a powerful economic boost,” said de Juniac.
IATA says passenger demand has evaporated as international borders closed and countries locked down to prevent the spread of the virus. This is the biggest driver of industry losses. At the low point in April, global air travel was roughly 95 percent below 2019 levels.
Overall traffic levels (in Revenue Passenger Kilometer) for 2020 are expected to fall by 54.7 percent compared to 2019 with passenger numbers roughly halve to 2.25 billion, approximately equal to 2006 levels.
Capacity, however, cannot be adjusted quickly enough with a 40.4 percent decline expected for the year.
The problem for airlines is made worse as passenger revenues are expected to fall to $241 billion (down from $612 billion in 2019). This is greater than the fall in demand, reflecting an expected 18 percent fall in passenger yields as airlines try to encourage people to fly again through price stimulation. Load factors are expected to average 62.7 percent for 2020, some 20 percentage points below the record high of 82.5 percent achieved in 2019.
And costs are not falling as fast as demand. Forecast total expenses of $517 billion are 34.9 percent below 2019 levels but revenues will see a 50 percent drop. Non-fuel unit costs will rise sharply by 14.1%, as fixed costs are spread over fewer passengers. Lower utilization of aircraft and seats as a result of restrictions will also add to rising costs.