April ‘rock-bottom’ for aviation industry but initial signs of recovery seen
CEBU CITY, Philippines–A decline of 94.3 percent in international passenger demand last April was the lowest in the history of the aviation industry.
A report published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on June 3, 2020 found that April was a disastrous month for airline companies as countries shut their borders, effectively suspending operations of passenger planes, to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Brunt of the drop in passenger demand for April in international markets was noted in European carriers, up to 99 percent. In Asia Pacific, where the Philippines belong, it plummeted to 98 percent.
“Passenger demand in April (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs), plunged 94.3 percent compared to April 2019… This is a rate of decline never seen in the history of IATA’s traffic series, which dates back to 1990,” the report said.
IATA is a group composed of 290 airline companies.
However, signs that passenger demand is recovering were recently seen, particularly in domestic markets.
“The initial flight increases have been concentrated in domestic markets. Data from late May show that flight levels in the Republic of Korea, China, and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22 to 28 percent lower than a year earlier,” the report said.
“Searches for air travel on Google also were up 25 percent by the end of May compared to the April low, although that’s a rise from a very low base and still 60 percent lower than at the start of the year,” it added.
In the same report, they also said these upticks, albeit did not bear any significance to the entire aviation industry worldwide, served as the first signals that airline companies are now starting to recover.
“While this uptick is not significant to the global dimension of the air transport industry, it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence. In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of re-establishing connectivity,” they stated.
In the Philippines, two of its three carriers have begun the gradual resumption of domestic flights in selected destinations only.
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But in compliance with the directives from the national government’s anti-coronavirus task force, leisure travels are still prohibited and passengers are required to present to airline representatives several documents.
Based on a June 2 advisory, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has not yet included Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in the list of gateways allowed to accept passengers. /bmjo
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