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ME carriers see weak air travel demand in February

GENEVA, April 2, 2020

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 1.6 per cent traffic increase in February, a slowdown from the 5.3 per cent year-over-year growth reported in January largely owing to a slowdown on Middle East-Asia-Pacific routes. 
 
According to figures released by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), 
capacity increased by 1.3 per cent, and load factor edged up 0.2 percentage point to 72.6 per cent.  
 
International passenger demand in the month of February fell 10.1 per cent compared to February 2019, the worst outcome since the 2003 SARS outbreak and a reversal from the 2.6 per cent traffic increase recorded in January. Europe and Middle East were the only regions to see a year-over-year traffic rise. Capacity fell 5.0 per cent, and load factor plunged 4.2 percentage points to 75.3 per cent.
 
Demand for domestic travel dropped 20.9 per cent in February compared to February 2019, as Chinese domestic market collapsed in the face of the government lockdown. Domestic capacity fell 15.1 per cent and load factor dropped 5.6 percentage points to 77  per cent.
 
Global passenger traffic data for February showed that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) fell 14.1 per cent compared to February 2019. This was the steepest decline in traffic since 9.11 and reflected collapsing domestic travel in China and sharply falling international demand to/from and within the Asia-Pacific region, owing to the spreading Covid-19 virus and government-imposed travel restrictions. February capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) fell 8.7 per cent as airlines scrambled to trim capacity in line with plunging traffic, and load factor fell 4.8 percentage points to 75.9 per cent.
 
“Airlines were hit by a sledgehammer called Covid-19 in February. Borders were closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. And the impact on aviation has left airlines with little to do except cut costs and take emergency measures in an attempt to survive in these extraordinary circumstances. The 14.1 per cent global fall in demand is severe, but for carriers in Asia-Pacific the drop was 41 per cent. And it has only grown worse. Without a doubt this is the biggest crisis that the industry has ever faced,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.  - TradeArabia News Service



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