The hit would amount to a more than 40 percent fall in revenues from 2019, Iata, the industry trade body warned on Tuesday. It is up from a prediction of $113bn made a few days ago and an initial forecast of $3obn at the start of the crisis. Brian Pearce, Iata’s chief economist, said the sharp increase in the projected blow stemmed from the aggressive extension of travel restrictions in recent days. The bans now cover roughly 98 percent of passenger revenues.
Capacity was expected to be 90 percent down in Europe alone, and a number of airlines in the region are vulnerable to collapse. The warning comes as Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low-cost airline, grounded its entire fleet and as governments around the world consider rescue packages for the aviation industry. The UK is expected to unveil its package soon.
Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director-general, said speed was imperative if governments hoped to avoid high-profile collapses, which would affect the global economy. Government willingness to act was welcome, but roughly half the world’s carriers were at risk of bankruptcy as cash resources were being decimated.
“We clearly need massive action very quickly. It has to be quick,” he said. “As an industry we are a vital part of the global economy.” Mr Pearce said the industry also faced a slower recovery than had been experienced in previous pandemics. “We have never seen a pandemic coincide with a deep global recession, which is now expected,” said Mr Pearce. “It will almost certainly . . . delay recovery. It will be a much more gradual slope.”
Using previous experience of pandemics, recovery might have been expected to emerge by the third quarter. However, by the fourth quarter of this year “we still see the industry some 10 per cent below where we would previously have expected,” Mr Pearce said.