International Air Travel May Not Return to Normal Until 2023

If you were hoping to squeeze in an end-of-year trip to the Maldives, you may need to put that off as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said international air travel is not expected to return to normal until 2023.

The trade association of the world’s airlines said passenger traffic is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 ‘at the earliest’ and could suffer further under new health regulations.

IATA’s Chief Economist, Brian Pearce, says: “Covid’s effects on air travel are certainly going to last a number of years with no quick rebound to 2019 levels.

Under the IATAs baseline scenario, it expects travel to return to normal by 2023, but under its ‘setback scenario’ – if lockdown continues into the autumn or if there’s another wave of the virus – travel might not return to normal until 2024.

During its weekly update yesterday, the IATA forecast that revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs, which measure the volume of passengers carried by an airline) would drop to under 4 billion per year in 2020 from 8 billion per year in 2019 – having a significant impact on airlines.

We’ve already seen the effect of the pandemic on airlines worldwide: Richard Branson came under fire for asking the British government for a £500m commercial loan for his airline, Virgin Atlantic British Airways announced it was making 12,000 of its staff redundant at the end of April.

But there are good signs, too. Yesterday we reported that Greece is considering allowing tourists to enter the country from June 1 without having to quarantine; earlier this week Ryanair announced it would restore 40 per cent of its scheduled flights on July 1 and Emirates is resuming flights to nine destinations next week .

While levels of international air travel may not return to normal until 2023, it doesn’t mean there will be no travel – just not the volume of travel there was before.

Culled from Evening Standard

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