UN agency predicts ‘prolonged depressed demand’ for air travel in 2021 amid COVID-19



The United Nations Aviation agency, on January 15, predicted “prolonged depressed demand” for air travel and more financial troubles for airlines as they continue to struggle with the pandemic induced recession. As per the International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO), airlines in 2020 faced a 60 per cent plunge in demand for air travel and it is set to continue in the near term. The initial air travel drop was reported in January but became widespread after the WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic prompting nations to shut down borders. 

“The near term outlook is for prolonged depressed demand, with downside risks to global air travel recovery predominating in the first quarter of 2021, and likely to be subject to further deterioration,” the report stated.

1.8 billion passengers in 2020

According to ICAO, only 1.8 billion people took flight in the first year of pandemic, that is 2020, as compared to the 4.5 billion of the previous year. This resulted in the loss of US$370 billion to the global aviation industry. In addendum, Airports and air navigation services providers lost a further US$115 billion and US$13 billion, respectively.

The aforementioned plunge not only led to global job losses but also resulted in a colossal loss to the tourist industry as the majority of travellers used air as a mode of transportation.  Elaborating upon the revival of the industry, the UN agency noted that it would only be possible following global vaccination.

International V/S Domestic Travel

Comparing Inter and Intra country travels, the Agency touted that domestic travel had shown much more resilience than international. It added that within country travel had already reached pre-pandmeic levels in multiple aisan giants like Russia and China. This comes as the coronavirus pandemic which began over a year ago has spiralled out to kill over 1.9 million people worldwide. 

Read: India-UK Flights To Resume On Jan 6, Air Travel From UK To India To Restart On Jan 8

Read: COVID-19: Japan Reports First Case Of New Variant From South Africa, Air Travel Suspended

In related news, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on January 2 informed that flights from India to the UK can start on January 6 itself but flights from the UK to India will begin on January 8. The Union Minister also said that the schedule will remain valid until January 23 with at least 30 lights being operated every week, 15 from each country.

Read: Air Travel Pandemic Milestone; 1 Million Passengers Screened

Read: Hong Kong-Singapore ‘air Travel Bubble’ Deferred Due To Surge In COVID-19 Cases





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