Asia’s aviation industry begins the long road to recovery

The global aviation sector has been sent into crisis following the Covid-19 travel bans with Europe the hardest hit.

The number of scheduled airline seats last week within Europe was down by 94 per cent, within North America down by 63 per cent, and within Asia down by 47 per cent, according to data analytics firm Cirium.

As some Asian countries have passed what is hoped as the worst of the crisis, some very limited capacity recovery is currently being seen across Asia and in China.

There has been a limited recovery of flights within China in recent weeks, but the indications are that passenger load factors are poor.

“The global airline Industry has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of scheduled seats compared to last year,” said Cirium’s chief economist, Peter Morris.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic kicked in global flights were up 4 per cent year-on-year in January. In just three months they collapsed across the world.

In China, which experienced the outbreak sooner, flights were cut drastically from early February. In the United States, the impact occurred later, with the steep fall beginning in mid-March.

“Cancellations are still high, but since the beginning of March the actual number of flights on China’s domestic routes have recovered slightly” said Morris.

The Covid-19 outbreak has effectively put the world’s entire US$10 trillion travel and tourism business on hold for at least three to six months, which is impacting the whole supply chain and booking cycle, and causing revenue sources to dry up.

“For 2020 the current IATA scenario sees that the hit to passenger revenues could be as high as US$314 billion, or roughly 55 per cent of the original projections for 2020,” said Morris.