The world’s airlines are project to lose $84.3 billion this year, with a net profit margin of negative 20 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association. Revenues in 2020 will fall 50 percent to $419 billion.
Losses will be cut to $15.8 billion in 2021 as revenues rise to $598 billion.
“Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general. “On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses.”
However de Juniac added that provided there is not a second and more damaging wave of COVID-19, “the worst of the collapse in traffic is likely behind us.”
A key to the recovery, said de Juniac, is universal implementation of the re-start measures agreed to through the International Civic Aviation Organization to keep passengers and crew safe. With the help of effective contact tracing, he said, these measures “should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine measures.”
IATA’s air travel numbers in May pointed to a tentative turnaround, but 2020 traffic levels are expected to be down by more than half compared to 2019. The silver lining may be the pandemic-driven drop in fuel prices, which account for about 15 percent of airline operating costs in 2020 compared to more than 23 percent in 2019.