The year 2020 was one of the most difficult for the aviation sector. Passenger traffic during the year fell 67% year-on-year.
According to research data analyzed and published by Buy Stocks, between January 1 and December 20, 2020, airlines operated a total of 16.8 million flights. During a similar period in 2019, 33.2 million flights were recorded, 97% more than the 2020 figure.
Total Airline Flights in 2019 and 2020
The sector registered 2.9 trillion kilometres of passengers worldwide, up from 8.7 trillion in 2019. As a result of travel restrictions, airline passenger traffic fell to levels not seen since 1999, eliminating 21 years of growth in the sector. While domestic flights fell 40% compared to 2019, international flights sank 68%.
According to the Cirium report, North America and Asia-Pacific began to recover earlier than other regions. In the list of the 10 busiest airports in the world, the US had seven appearances and China three.
The airport with the most traffic was Atlanta and had 250,800 flights during the year. Chicago was second with 228,000 flights and Dallas third with 227,200 flights. In China, the airport with the most traffic was Guangzhou, with 158,700 flights. It was ranked sixth on the list.
Net losses in the aviation sector fell from $ 118.5 billion in 2020 to $ 38.7 billion in 2021
According to IATA, 2020 was the worst financial year for the aviation sector in its history. The total income of the sector for that year was 328,000 million dollars, for the 838,000 million that there was in 2019.
The number of passengers fell to 1.8 billion during the year, a level not seen since 2003. Compared with 4.5 billion in 2019, the figure was 61% lower year-on-year.
While demand plunged 66%, the load factor plummeted to 65.5%, the lowest level since 1993. Low demand, in turn, resulted in a massive decline in passenger revenue, from $ 612 billion in 2019 to $ 191 billion.
In order to stay afloat, airlines cut their spending by 45.8%, from $ 795 billion in 2019 to $ 430 billion in 2020. Unfortunately, airline revenues fell 60.9%. As a consequence, it was estimated that companies lost about $ 66 for each passenger carried in 2020, resulting in a net loss of 118.5 billion.
IATA projections indicate that the destruction of cash will continue until the end of 2021, estimating a loss of 38.7 billion for the year. Overall revenue is expected to rise to $ 459 billion in 2021, $ 131 billion more than in 2020. However, that figure is still 45% lower than in 2019.
Passenger numbers are projected to rise to 2.8 billion, a considerable improvement, but still 1.7 billion less than in 2019. The passenger load factor will increase to 72.7%, well below the level of 82, 5% prior to the pandemic. At the earliest, IATA estimates that passenger numbers will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Cargo operations had less of an impact than passenger business. Despite a 45% decline in capacity, freight revenue rose from $ 102.4 billion in 2019 to $ 117.7 billion in 2020. Although the increase could not offset the drop in revenue from passengers It did help airlines maintain their complicated international business. The air transport business is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
Asia-Pacific airlines will suffer a loss of 7.5 billion in 2021
While the global market for air travel is still far from full recovery, regional discrepancies are worth mentioning.
Asia-Pacific airlines are expected to lead the global recovery process. Flight volume in Asia-Pacific fell by almost 45% year-on-year in 2020. It remained the world’s largest market and even gained slightly in other regions.
By the end of the third quarter of 2020, domestic air travel in China and Russia had fully recovered. According to IATA data, China only lost 2.8% in the year-on-year rate of kilometres flown by passengers in domestic markets, while in Russia they were up 2.7% over the previous year. Compared to 2019, there was a 65% reduction in the US.
By the end of 2020, the West Asia and Pacific region had a remarkable recovery, achieving 73% of pre-pandemic flights. At that time, North America carried 55% of pre-crisis flights and Europe 39%.
Overall, Asia-Pacific airlines lost roughly $ 31.7 billion in 2020, while North America lost $ 45.8 billion. IATA expects a loss of 7.5 billion for Asia-Pacific airlines in 2021, the lowest loss among the top three regions in the global aviation sector.
On the other hand, North American airlines are expected to lose about 11 billion and European ones, 11.9 billion. However, North America is expected to make a strong recovery thanks to the size of its domestic market and the financial strength of its airlines before the pandemic.