By , Published on August 4th, 2021 in News

The year ‘2020’ turned out to be the worst year ever for the global aviation industry in its history, according to the report published by International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) publication with performance figures for 2020, which demonstrated the devastating effects on global air transport during that year of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the report, “1.8 billion passengers flew in 2020, a decrease of 60.2% compared to the 4.5 billion who flew in 2019”

The Industry-wide air travel demand (measured in revenue passenger-kilometers, 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 $189 billion in 2020, and net losses were $126.4 billion in total

The decline in air passengers transported in 2020 was the largest recorded since global RPKs started being tracked around 1950

These were the key 2020 airline performance figures from WATS:

  • Systemwide, airlines carried 1.8 billion passengers on scheduled services, a decrease of 60.2% over 2019
  • On average, there was a $71.7 loss incurred per passenger in 2020, corresponding to net losses of $126.4 billion in total
  • Measured in ASKs (available seat kilometers), global airline capacity plummeted by 56.7%, with international capacity being hit the hardest with a reduction of 68.3%
  • Systemwide passenger load factor dropped to 65.1% in 2020, compared to 82.5% the year prior
  • The Middle East region suffered the largest proportion of loss for passenger traffic* with a drop of 71.5% in RPKs versus 2019, followed by Europe (-69.7%) and the Africa region (-68.5%)
  • 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

The report also listed the top 5 airlines ranked by total scheduled passenger kilometers flown.

Heading the list was American Airline with 124 billion, followed by China Southern Airlines with 110.7 billion, Delta Airlines 106.5 billion, United Airlines with 100.2 billion and China Eastern Airlines with 88.7 billion.

The top 5 route areas by passenger demand (RPKs) were as follows,

  1. Within Europe (290.3 million, down 70.7% from 2019)
  2. Europe – North America (122.9 million, decreased 80.4% from 2019)
  3. Within Far East (117.3 million, a decrease of 84.1% from 2019)
  4. Europe – Far East (115.3 million, a decrease of 79% from 2019)
  5. Middle East – Far East (104 million, down 73.6% from 2019)

The top 5 domestic passenger airport-pairs were all in Asia and outperformed top international routes as domestic recovery returned faster, particularly in China:

  1. Jeju – Seoul Gimpo (10.2 million, up 35.1% over 2019)
  2. Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City (5.9 million, an increase of 54.3% from 2019)
  3. Shanghai-Hongqiao – Shenzhen (3.7 million, up 43.4% from 2019)
  4. Beijing-Capital – Shanghai-Hongqiao (3.6 million, increased by 11.8% from 2019)
  5. Guangzhou – Shanghai-Hongqiao (3.5 million, up 41.2% from 2019)
Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

The top 5 nationalities traveling by air (international) were:

  1. United States (45.7 million, or 9.7% of all passengers)
  2. United Kingdom (40.8 million, or 8.6% of all passengers)
  3. Germany (30.8 million, or 6.5% of all passengers)
  4. France (23.3 million, or 4.9% of all passengers)
  5. India (17.4 million, or 3.7% of all passengers)

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