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Coronavirus: Global air passenger traffic falls by 60% in 2020

·Contributor
·2-min read
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 23: Passengers are seen at Brussels Airport as flights to UK begin again after Belgium temporarily banned air and rail links to UK for 48 hours due to the detection of mutant coronavirus (COVID-19), with 70 per cent increased transmissibility rate, in UK, on December 23, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The latest figures shoe 2020 passenger numbers are now below 2004 levels. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Global air traffic has seen a significant drop of 60% to 1.8 billion passengers in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic devastating the airline industry as countries shut their borders to limit the spread of the virus.

“Massive cancellations of flights since the beginning of 2020 caused staggering losses to the world's largest airline companies and huge drops in airline passenger traffic,” said trading platform AksjeBloggen.com, which gathered the data.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the airline industry grew at a steady pace across all countries.

Data from the International Air Transport Association data showed the number of scheduled passengers handled by the global airline industry had been increasing for the last 15 years, jumping from 1.9 billion in 2004 to 4.5 billionn in 2019.

The latest figures for 2020 are now below 2004 levels. Statistics show this figure is expected to recover to 2.8 billion in 2021 — still 40% less than pre-COVID 19 estimations.

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The steep fall continues as the latest variant of the COVID-19 virus to arise in the UK led to border closures to the country. France and the UK have since struck a deal to restart lorry traffic following fears of importing the new strain to the neighbouring nation.

Travel, leisure and transport stocks were also negatively impacted earlier this week following news of the latest COVID-19 mutation. British Airways owner IAG (IAG.L), jet maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) and EasyJet (EZJ.L) all sunk on Monday before rebounding on Tuesday and continuing to make solid gains on Wednesday.

IAG is among the air carriers who have recovered steep stock losses from earlier in the week following news of the latest COVID-19 strain in the UK. Chart: Yahoo Finance
IAG is among the air carriers who have recovered steep stock losses from earlier in the week following news of the latest COVID-19 strain in the UK. Chart: Yahoo Finance

While travel restrictions have since eased, Delta Air Lines (DAL), Virgin Atlantic and British Airways announced that travellers will have to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding flights bound for New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. The new measures follow New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s request as officials try to reduce exposure to the new strain of COVID-19.

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