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    IATA: Aviation sector continues to deteriorate

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has found that passenger traffic fell in February, both compared to pre-Covid-19 levels in February 2019, and to the immediate month prior, January this year.
    Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of Covid-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to February 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
    Total demand for air travel in February 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 75 per cent compared to February 2019.
    That was worse than the 72 per cent decline recorded in January this year versus two years ago.
    International passenger demand in February was 89 per cent below February 2019, a further drop from the 86 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. ADVERTISEMENTPerformance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
    Total domestic demand was down 51 per cent versus pre-crisis (February 2019) levels.
    In January it was down 48 per cent on the 2019 period.
    This largely was owing to weakness in China travel, driven by government requests that citizens stay at home during the Lunar New Year travel period.
    “February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel.
    “In fact, most indicators went in the wrong direction as travel restrictions tightened in the face of continuing concerns over new coronavirus variants.
    “An important exception was the Australian domestic market.
    “A relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel.
    “This tells us that people have not lost their desire travel.
    “They will fly, provided they can do so without facing quarantine measures,” said Willie Walsh, IATA director general.

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    IATA: Aviation is moving from bad to worse

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that passenger traffic fell in January 2021.
    The figures are down both compared to pre-Covid levels, January 2019, and compared to the immediate month prior, December 2020.
    Total demand in January 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 72 per cent compared to January 2019.
    That was worse than the 70 per cent year-over-year decline recorded in December 2020.
    Total domestic demand was down 47 per cent versus pre-crisis, January 2019, levels.

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    In December it was down 43 per cent on the previous year.
    This weakening is largely driven by stricter domestic travel controls in China over the Lunar New Year holiday period.
    International passenger demand in January was 86 per cent below January 2019, a further drop compared to the 85 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in December.
    “This year is starting off worse than 2020 ended and that is saying a lot.
    “Even as vaccination programs gather pace, new Covid-19 variants are leading governments to increase travel restrictions.
    “The uncertainty around how long these restrictions will last also has an impact on future travel.
    “Forward bookings in February this year for the northern Hemisphere summer travel season were 78 per cent below levels in February 2019,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA chief executive.
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    IATA prepares to debut Travel Pass as aviation looks to reopen

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects its digital Covid Travel Pass will be ready for use “within weeks”.
    The pass – which was originally unveiled in December – is designed to verify a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country.
    It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority.
    The industry body sees the pass as essential for reopening air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place.
    “The key issue is one of confidence,” Vinoop Goel, IATA regional director of airports and external relations, said.
    “Passengers need to be confident that the testing they have taken is accurate and will allow them to enter the country.

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    “Then governments need to have the confidence that the tests that the passengers claim to have is one which is accurate and meets their own conditions.”
    IATA said the Travel Pass – which it is preparing alongside Etihad and a number of other carriers – is designed in a modular way, so that it can work with other digital solutions that are being trialled around the world.
    British Airways, for example, is working on a separate, but compatible, VeriFLY solution.
    IATA said the Travel Pass will be available on iOS and Android platforms, and is expected to be free to passengers.
    “We are building the IATA Travel Pass with one aim – to help reconnect our world safely.
    “IATA has brought advancements in global standards like e-ticketing and mobile boarding passes to consumers in all parts of the world.
    “This unique capability demonstrates that we can work with industry and governments to re-shape travel processes based on global standards,” said Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president, airport, passenger, cargo and security.
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    IATA: 2020 worst year in history of aviation

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced full-year global passenger traffic results for 2020 showing that demand (revenue passenger kilometres) fell by 66 per cent compared to the full year of 2019.
    This is by far the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history.
    Furthermore, forward bookings have been falling sharply since late December.
    According to IATA figures, international passenger demand in 2020 was 76 per cent below 2019 levels.
    Capacity, (measured in available seat kilometres) declined 68 per cent and load factors fell 19 percentage points to 63 per cent.

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    Domestic demand in 2020 was down 49 per cent compared to 2019.
    Capacity contracted by 36 per cent and load factor dropped 17 percentage points to 67 per cent in the domestic market.
    December total traffic was 69.7 per cent below the same month in 2019, little improved from the 70.4 per cent contraction in November.
    Capacity was down 57 per cent and load factor fell 24.6 percentage points to 57 per cent.
    Bookings for future travel made in January were down 70 per cent compared to a year-ago, putting further pressure on airline cash positions and potentially impacting the timing of the expected recovery.
    “Last year was a catastrophe – there is no other way to describe it.
    “What recovery there was over the Northern hemisphere summer season stalled in autumn and the situation turned dramatically worse over the year-end holiday season, as more severe travel restrictions were imposed in the face of new outbreaks and new strains of Covid-19,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general.
    The IATA baseline forecast for 2021 is for a 50 per cent improvement on 2020 demand that would bring the industry to 50.6 per cent of 2019 levels.
    While this view remains unchanged, there is a severe downside risk if more severe travel restrictions in response to new variants persist.
    Should such a scenario materialise, demand improvement could be limited to just 13 per cent over 2020 levels, leaving the industry at 38 per cent of 2019 levels.
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    IATA calls for EU-wide Covid-19 vaccination certificate

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged all branches of the European Union to support an initiative from Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to agree a common digital European Covid-19 vaccination certificate.
    It is hoped the digital document would enable those who are vaccinated to travel freely within Europe without testing.
    In an open letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, IATA chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, called on EU dates to coordinate a policy that would see the region safely gain the economic and social benefits of renewed freedom of movement.
    ”Prime minister Mitsotakis’ initiative should be urgently adopted by the commission and all member states.
    “Vaccination is a fundamental key to safely reopening borders and stimulating economic recovery.

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    “A pan-European mutually recognised vaccination certificate would be an important step towards giving governments the confidence to safely open their borders, and passengers the confidence to fly without the barrier of quarantine,” said de Juniac.
    The Greek proposal is for a harmonised vaccination certificate that could contribute “to the re-establishment of mobility on a global scale, which is the foundation for re-establishing economic activity to pre-crisis levels”.
    As the virus comes eventually under control, testing capacities improve and the vaccinated population grows, de Juniac stressed the need for governments to prepare for re-establishing the freedom of movement with well-coordinated planning.
    That planning should use the most effective combination of vaccination and testing capabilities.
    “We are in very dark days of this pandemic.
    “But the tough measures taken combined with accelerating vaccination programs must give us hope that we can safely re-establish the freedom of movement.
    “That will save jobs, ease mental anguish, re-connect families and revive the economy.
    “To do this safely and efficiently, planning is key,” said de Juniac.
    The EU heads of state meet tomorrow and Mitsotakis’ proposal will be on the agenda.
    Image: Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images
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    Slow aviation recovery comes to a standstill

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the slow recovery in passenger demand came to a halt in November.
    A moderate return had been slowing in place since the summer travel season in the northern hemisphere came to an end.
    Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 70 per cent compared to November 2019, virtually unchanged from the 70 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in October.
    November capacity was 58 per cent below previous year levels and load factor fell 23 percentage points to 58 per cent, which was a record low for the month.
    International passenger demand in November was 88 per cent below November 2019, slightly worse than the 88 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in October.

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    Capacity fell 77 per cent below previous year levels, and load factor dropped 39 percentage points to 41 per cent.
    Europe was the main driver of the weakness as new lockdowns weighed on travel demand.
    Recovery in domestic demand, which had been the relative bright spot, also stalled, with November domestic traffic down 41 per cent compared to the prior year (it stood at 41 per cent below the previous year’s level in October).
    Capacity was 27 per cent down on 2019 levels and the load factor dropped 16 percentage points to 67 per cent.
    “The already tepid recovery in air travel demand came to a full stop in November.
    “That’s because governments responded to new outbreaks with even more severe travel restrictions and quarantine measures. 
    “This is clearly inefficient.
    “Such measures increase hardship for millions.
    “Vaccines offer the long-term solution. In the meantime, testing is the best way that we see to stop the spread of the virus and start the economic recovery.
    “How much more anguish do people need to go through—job losses, mental stress—before governments will understand that?” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA chief executive.
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    IATA data reveals slowdown in aviation recovery

    Figures from the International Air Transport Association have confirmed that passenger demand in September remained highly depressed.
    Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was 73 per cent below September 2019 levels.
    This is only a slightly improvement over the 75 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in August.
    Capacity was down 63 per cent compared to a year ago and load factor fell 22 percentage points to 60 per cent.
    International passenger demand in September plunged 89 per cent compared to September 2019, basically unchanged from the 88.5 per cent decline recorded in August.
    Capacity plummeted 79 per cent, and load factor withered 38 percentage points to 43 per cent.

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    Domestic demand in September was down 43 per cent compared to the previous year, improved from a 51 per cent decline in August.
    Compared to 2019, capacity fell by a third and the load factor dropped 12 percentage points to 70 per cent.
    “We have hit a wall in the industry’s recovery.
    “A resurgence in Covid-19 outbreaks – particularly in Europe and the US – combined with governments’ reliance on the blunt instrument of quarantine in the absence of globally aligned testing regimes, has halted momentum toward re-opening borders to travel.
    “Although domestic markets are doing better, this is primarily owing to improvements in China and Russia.
    “And domestic traffic represents just a bit more than a third of total traffic, so it is not enough to sustain a general recovery,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general.
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