Asia-Pacific airlines worst hit by virus: IATA

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Airlines in Asia-Pacific countries, including India, will post losses of $29 billion in 2020, making it the worst region for aviation, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, International Air Transport Association (Iata) has said.

Carriers in Asia-Pacific will see passenger demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPK) collapse 53.8% from the previous year, while capacity (in available seat kilometres, or ASK) will reduce by 39.2%, the aviation industry group said in a statement.

“2020 is the worst year in aviation history and airlines are in survival mode. The carriers in Asia-Pacific will experience the largest losses at $29 billion. That’s a loss of $30.09 per passenger," Conrad Clifford, IATA’s regional vice president for Asia Pacific said in the statement.

“It will take a few years for the industry to get back to 2019 levels of activity," added Clifford. According to Iata, the global airline industry is expected to report losses of $84.3 billion during 2020 due to covid-19.

Meanwhile, air passenger traffic in India is expected to decline by 49% during 2020, compared with the previous year.

The covid-19 pandemic could result in over three million job losses across the aviation and related sectors such as tourism and hospitality.

The Indian government grounded domestic aviation for a two-month period from 25 March to 25 May. Though domestic services were allowed to resume, albeit in a limited capacity, international flights continue to remain grounded at least till 31 July.

Indian airlines have cut jobs and salaries, and renegotiated contracts with vendors to survive the crisis. Excluding market leader IndiGo, Indian airlines will need to raise a minimum of $3.5 billion to survive the grounding, aviation consultancy firm Capa India said last month. Domestic traffic is expected to decline to about 55 million this fiscal year while international traffic is expected to fall to about 20-27 million during the current fiscal year, because of subdued travel demand following the pandemic, Capa India added.