The Corona virus epidemic (COVID-19) outbreak has significantly dampened air travel demand and caused the slowest traffic growth in the last decade, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
January 2020 data of global passenger traffic indicated that demand climbed 2.4% compared to the same period last year, down from 4.6% year-over-year growth in the previous month.
This was the lowest monthly performance since April, 2010, during the ash cloud crisis in Europe that caused massive airspace closures and flight cancellations.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General and CEO, said, “January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impact we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until January 23. It was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade.”
January 2020 capacity increased 1.7% while load factor rose by only 0.6 percentage points to 80.3%.
January international passenger demand rose 2.5% compared to January, 2019, down from 3.7% growth the previous month.
All regions recorded increases, led by African and the Middle East airlines, except for Latin American carriers. Capacity climbed 0.9%, and load factor rose 1.2 percentage points to 81.1%.
January traffic by Asia-Pacific airlines increased 2.5% compared to the year-ago period, which was the slowest outcome since early 2013 and a decline from the 3.9% increase in December.
Softer GDP growth in several of the region’s key economies was compounded by COVID-19 impacts on the international China market. Capacity rose 3.0% and load factor slid 0.4 percentage point to 81.6%.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 5.4% traffic increase in January, the fourth consecutive month of solid demand growth, reflecting strong performance from larger Europe-Middle East and Middle East-Asia routes, which were not significantly impacted by route cancellations related to COVID-19 at that time. Capacity increased just 0.5%, with load factor jumping 3.6 percentage points to 78.3%.