One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted During the COVID-19 Pandemic
One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted during COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s no surprise that the commercial air travel industry took a hit in 2020, given the pandemic-induced travel restrictions that began early last year.
However, it’s worth noting the sheer magnitude of the situation—according to IATA, COVID-19 was the most drastic hit to the industry since World War II.
Low Air Travel, Steep Losses
To measure air traffic, IATA uses the industry-wide metric revenue passenger kilometers (RPK). RPK is calculated by taking the number of revenue-paying passengers, and multiplying that by the total distance traveled.
In 2020 as a whole, RPK dropped by 66%—the steepest yearly decline in aviation history. As a result, the global aviation industry reported an estimated net loss of $118.5 billion.
International vs. Domestic
International air travel was hit a lot harder than domestic travel—in 2020, RPK for the worldwide international market fell 75.6%. In April, when strict lockdowns limited travel the most, international RPK was down 98% year-over-year.
In contrast, domestic only dropped by 48.8% in 2020 as a whole.
In terms of regional markets, Asia Pacific saw the largest decrease in RPK, with a decrease of more than 80%.
|International Market||RPK for 2020 (% year-on-year)|