In a world plagued with a now-quickly-mutating virus pandemic running rampant in several countries sparking continued flight restrictions, airline passenger traffic worldwide plunged to two-decade lows in 2020, according to global aviation data firm Cirium.
Cirium found that 21 years of global passenger traffic growth was wiped out in a matter of months last year because of flight restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus, reducing traffic to levels not seen since 1999. “In comparison to last year, passenger traffic is estimated to be down 67% in 2020,” the firm said.
April was the height of the air travel collapse. In that month, flights plunged to just 13,600 globally on Apr. 25, compared with 95,000 tracked by Cirium on Jan. 3. This represents a stunning collapse in global flights over the period, down by more than 86%.
Cirium’s data showed airlines operated 16.8 million flights from Jan. 1 to Dec. 20, down from 33.2 million in the same period the prior year. US travel was down 40% over the same period, from 21.5 million flights in 2019, while international flights were 68% below the 11.7 million flights tracked the year before.
Cirium said at least 40 airlines altogether ceased or suspended operations during 2020, with more failures expected for 2021. This has resulted in a tsunami of defaults, bankruptcies, and bailouts.
To view the list of the most prominent airline bankruptcies and bailouts of the past year, courtesy of Bank of America, read our most recent report titled “Mapping The Global Lockdown: Where Air Travel Is Partially Open And Where It’s Fully Closed.”
“This severe setback shows the true extent of the challenge faced by the struggling aviation sector as it has sought to reset itself in the new post-COVID-19 era,” Jeremy Bowen, CEO of Cirium, said.
Bowen said, “airlines have a way before returning to 2019 levels particularly as international travel is significantly down.”
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