Airlines are on the road to lose a total $157 billion this year and next, further lowering its industry outlook in response to a second wave of coronavirus infections and shutdowns afflicting major markets.
The International Air Transport Association, which in June had forecast $100 billion in losses for the two-year period, said it now projects a $118.5 billion deficit this year alone, and a further $38.7 billion for 2021. The dreary outlook underscores challenges still facing the sector despite upbeat news on development of COVID-19 vaccines, whose global deployment will continue throughout next year.
IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac told Reuters that, “The positive impact it will have on the economy and air traffic will not happen massively before mid-2021.”
IATA estimates that passenger numbers are expected to drop to 1.8 billion this year from 4.5 billion in 2019, and will recover to a certain extent, possibly 2.8 billion next year. Passenger revenue for 2020 is expected to have plunged 69% to $191 billion. The predictions assume some re-opening of borders by the middle of next year, helped by some combination of COVID-19 testing and vaccine deployment.
IATA reiterated its call for governments to replace travel-stifling quarantine regimes with widespread testing programs. “We are seeing states progressively coming to listen to us,” de Juniac said, citing testing initiatives underway in France, Germany, Italy, Britain, the United States and Singapore.