The Middle East region suffered the largest proportion of loss for passenger traffic in 2020 with the region accounting for 76.8mn passengers, a decrease of 67.6% over 2019.
IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) released on Wednesday showed 2020 was the “worst year on record” for the global aviation industry.
Some 1.8bn passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2% compared to the 4.5bn who flew in 2019.
China became the largest domestic market in 2020 for the first time on record, as air travel rebounded faster in their domestic market following their efforts to control Covid-19.
Industry-wide air travel demand (measured in revenue passenger-kilometres, or RPKs) dropped by 65.9% year-on-year.
International passenger demand (RPKs) decreased by 75.6% compared to the year prior.
Domestic air passenger demand (RPKs) dropped by 48.8% compared to 2019.
Air connectivity declined by more than half in 2020 with the number of routes connecting airports falling dramatically at the outset of the crisis and was down more than 60% year-on-year in April 2020.
Total industry passenger revenues fell by 69% to $189bn in 2020, and net losses were $126.4bn in total.
The decline in air passengers transported in 2020 was the largest recorded since global RPKs started being tracked around 1950, IATA said.
The top five nationalities travelling by air (international) were: United States (45.7mn, or 9.7% of all passengers), United Kingdom (40.8mn, or 8.6% of all passengers), Germany (30.8mn, or 6.5% of all passengers), France (23.3mn, or 4.9% of all passengers) and India (17.4mn or 3.7% of all passengers).
Air freight was the bright spot in air transport for 2020, as the market adapted to keep goods moving — including vaccines, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vital medical supplies — despite the massive drop in capacity from the bellies of passenger aircraft.
Industry-wide available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs) fell 21.4% year-on-year in 2020. This led to a capacity crunch, with the industry-wide cargo load factor up 7.0 percentage points to 53.8%. This is the highest value in the IATA series started in 1990.
At the end of the year, industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs) had returned close to pre-crisis values. However, the yearly decline in cargo demand (CTKs) was still the largest since the global financial crisis in 2009, at a sizeable 9.7% year-on-year in 2020.