The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that passenger demand in May, measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs, dropped by 91.3% compared to May 2019.
According to IATA, this was a mild uptick from the 94% annual decline recorded in April 2020. The improvement was driven by the recovery in some domestic markets, most notably China.
Speaking on the development, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, has this to say “May was not quite as terrible as April. That’s about the best thing that can be said. As predicted, the first improvements in passenger demand are occurring in domestic markets. International traffic remained virtually stopped in May. We are only at the very beginning of a long and difficult recovery. And there is tremendous uncertainty about what impact a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in key markets could have.”
May international passenger demand fell 98.3% compared to May 2019, which was virtually unchanged from the 98.4% decline recorded in April. Capacity plummeted 95.3%, and load factor sank 51.9 percentage points to 28.6% meaning a bit more than a quarter of seats were filled, on average.
European carriers’ May demand
contracted 98.7% compared to last year, virtually unchanged from a 98.9% drop
in April, year-over-year, and the worst decline among regions. Capacity dropped
97.5% and load factor fell by 41.7 percentage points to 42.4%.
Asia-Pacific airlines’ May traffic
plunged 98.0% compared to the year-ago period, also in line with a 98.2%
recorded in April. Capacity fell 95.1% and load factor shrank 46.6 percentage
points to 32.1%.
Middle Eastern airlines posted a 98.0% traffic contraction for May, compared with a 97.3% demand drop in April. Capacity tumbled 93.9%, and load factor sagged to 23.9%, down 49.1 percentage points compared to the year-ago period.
North American carriers had a
98.2% traffic decline in May, little changed from a 98.4% decline in April.
Capacity fell 94.5%, and load factor dropped 56.7 percentage points to 27.2%.
Latin American airlines experienced
a 98.1% demand drop in May compared to the same month last year, versus a 98.2%
drop in April. Capacity fell 96.6% and load factor fell 38.1 percentage points
to 45.9%, best among the regions.
African airlines’ traffic sank 98.2% in May, fractionally improved from a 98.7% decline in April. Capacity contracted 77.8%, which was the smallest supply reduction among the regions, and load factor dived 61.8 percentage points to just 5.3% of seats filled, which was the lowest among regions.
Domestic traffic fell 79.2% in May. This was an improvement compared to an 86.2% decline in April. Domestic capacity fell 69.2% and load factor dropped 27.2 percentage points to 56.9%.
China’s carriers posted
a 49.9% year-on-year decline in traffic in May, significantly improved from the
64.6% demand drop recorded in April. However, the improvement has been more
recently interrupted by flight cancellations to and from Beijing amid an
increase in the number of new infections in the city.
US airlines’ domestic traffic was down 89.5% in May, an improvement over the 95.6% decline experienced in April. However, the recent rise in infection rates in key US states following the lifting of lockdown restrictions could negatively impact the budding recovery.