After plunging 94.3% in April 2020 compared with April 2019, demand for air travel is on the rise.

Recent IATA figures show that daily flight totals rose 30% between the low point on 21 April and 27 May. Though this rise is primarily in domestic operations and off a low base (5.7% of 2019 demand), it does suggest that the industry has seen the bottom of the crisis, provided there is no recurrence of the pandemic. 

“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets, such as China, Germany, and the United States. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time—possibly years—to mature,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA calculated that by the first week of April, governments in 75% of the markets tracked by IATA completely banned entry, while an additional 19% had limited travel restrictions or compulsory quarantine requirements for international arrivals.

Data also showed that from late May flight levels in the Republic of Korea, China, and Vietnam have risen to a point now just 22%-28% lower than a year earlier. Searches for air travel on Google were up 25% by the end of May compared with the April low, although they are still 60% lower than at the start of the year.

“For aviation, April was our cruelest month,” said de Juniac. “Governments had to take drastic action to slow the pandemic. But that has come with the economic cost of a traumatic global recession. Airlines will be key to the economic recovery. It is vital that the aviation industry is ready with bio-safety measures that passengers and air transport workers have confidence in. That’s why the speedy implementation of International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) global guidelines for safely re-starting aviation is the top priority.”

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