IATA’s air passenger data for September 2020 shows
that total demand, measured in revenue passenger kilometers
(RPKs), was 72.8% below September 2019 levels, only a slight
improvement on the 75.2% year-to-year decline recorded in August.

Capacity was down 63% compared to a year ago,
and load factor fell 21.8 percentage points to 60.1%.

International passenger demand in September
plunged 88.8% when compared to September 2019, basically unchanged from
the 88.5% decline recorded in August. Capacity plummeted 78.9%,
and load factor withered 38.2 percentage points to 43.5%.

Domestic demand in September was down 43.3%
compared to the previous year, improved from a 50.7% decline in
August. Compared to 2019, capacity fell 33.3% and the load factor
dropped 12.4 percentage points to 69.9%.

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 reg: HS-TGW. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

“We have hit a wall in the industry’s recovery,”
said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s
Director General and CEO. “A resurgence in COVID19
outbreaks–particularly in Europe and the US–combined with
governments’ reliance on the blunt instrument of quarantine in the
absence of globally aligned testing regimes, has halted momentum
toward re-opening borders to travel. Although domestic markets are
doing better, this is primarily owing to improvements in China and
Russia. And domestic traffic represents just a bit more than a
third of total traffic, so it is not enough to sustain a general

European carriers’ September demand collapsed
82.5% versus a year ago, which was a setback compared to an 80.5%
decline in August. Europe was the only region to see a
deterioration in traffic compared to August, owing to renewed
infections that led to a wave of border closings. Capacity
contracted 70.7% and load factor fell by 35.1 percentage points to

Asia-Pacific airlines’ September traffic sank
95.8% compared to the year-ago period, virtually unchanged from a
96.2% drop in August. The region continued to suffer from the
steepest fall in traffic as flight restrictions have remained
stringent with little re-opening of borders. Capacity plummeted
89.6% and load factor shrank 46.8 percentage points to 31.7%, the
lowest among regions.

Middle Eastern airlines posted a 90.2% traffic
decline for September, improved from a 92.3% demand drop in
August. Capacity tumbled 78.5%, and load factor sank 40.9
percentage points to 34.4%.

North American carriers saw a 91.3% traffic
decline in September, a slight improvement from a 92.0% decline in
August. Capacity toppled 78.3%, and load factor dropped 49.8
percentage points to 33.4%.

Latin American airlines faced a 92.2% demand drop
in September, compared to the same month last year, versus a 93.4%
decline in August versus August 2019. Capacity dived 87.9% and
load factor dropped 29.3 percentage points to 53.3%, highest among
the regions.

African airlines’ traffic sank 88.5% in September,
barely budged from an 88.7% drop in August. Capacity contracted
74.7%, and load factor fell 39.4 percentage points to 32.6%, which
was the second lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Australia’s domestic traffic was down 88.7%
compared to September 2019 virtually unchanged from August
(-88.8%), amid continuing strict containment measures.

Brazil’s domestic traffic fell 55.3% in September,
an 11.7 percentage point improvement compared to August.

“Last week we provided analysis showing that the
airline industry cannot slash costs fast enough to compensate for
the collapse in passenger demand brought about by COVID19 and
government border closures and quarantines. Some 4.8 million
aviation-sector jobs are imperiled, as are a total of 46 million
people in the broader economy whose jobs are supported by
aviation. To avoid this economic catastrophe, governments need to
align on testing as a way to open borders and enable travel
without quarantine; and provide further relief measures to sustain
the industry through the dark winter ahead. A broader economic
recovery is only possible through the connectivity provided by
aviation,” said de Juniac.

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