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Air passenger traffic maintains downward trend

April 7, 2021

Air passenger transport in the world represented a quarter of the levels registered before the pandemic in February, IATA announced on Wednesday, specifying that ten times fewer international trips were made.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), world traffic calculated in passengers per kilometer transported fell by 74.7% compared to February 2019. The organization does not take 2020 into account as that month experienced the first effects of the pandemic.

The downward trend follows January 2021, when the drop was 72.2%, said IATA, whose 290 airlines represent 82% of world traffic. The contraction was 66% in the whole of 2020.

Victim of travel restrictions, international air traffic fell 88.7% in February, three points more than in January.

“International passenger traffic was down almost 89% and is showing no signs of recovery in the current environment,” noted IATA’s new director general, Willie Walsh.

Internal connections are less affected, although they rose in February to 51% of the volume registered in the second month of 2019.

“This is the most difficult crisis that the airline industry has had to face,” Walsh, former head of the British Airways parent company, said at a press conference.

Airlines lost $510 billion in revenue in 2020, and air traffic will represent between 33% and 38% of what was recorded before the pandemic, IATA warned in February.

Walsh nevertheless underlined the progress in vaccination campaigns and said he was “optimistic” about summer travel in Europe in the middle of the year.

IATA also noted that passenger traffic slowed its decline in North America, although it is still 56.1% lower than in February 2019.

There have been some positive signs specifically for Costa Rica, including United Airlines’s planned route expansion over the coming months.

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