Monday, March 09, 2020

Covid-19’s full impact on global aviation still unknown

More than eight weeks after the world first learnt the term “coronavirus”, the outbreak has spread beyond Asia, with Europe, the Middle East, and even North America now on high alert.
Closer to the epicentre in China, Asia-Pacific airlines have been grappling with the shock to air traffic demand, but it appears that other regions are just starting to see the full extent of what the World Health Organization terms a “global health emergency”.
In a 5 March briefing held in Singapore, IATA noted that previous disease outbreaks had peaked after one to three months and that air traffic had recovered to pre-outbreak levels in six to seven months. It cited examples such as the impact of 2015’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on South Korean air traffic, 2013’s Avian flu outbreak on Asia-Pacific, and, most prominently, 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on the same region.

If the coronavirus’s impact follows this profile, IATA’s chief economist Brian Pearce warns, there would be a 13% loss of RPKs in 2020 for Asia-Pacific airlines, equivalent to a $28 billion reduction in passenger revenues.
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