Kathmandu, May 16 The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has predicted that though domestic and shorthaul air travel markets will recover pretty soon once the lockdowns and travel restrictions are lifted, the long-haul markets will take more time to resume. Issuing a statement on Friday, IATA has stated that the expected decline in air passenger volumes (measured by Revenue Passenger Kilometres – RPKs) is much more severe, with a decline of around 50 per cent this year. There are a number of reasons why RPKs are likely to lag the recovery in broader economic activity. Consumer confidence in air travel remains key and may take some time to be restored even after the governments begin the process of opening borders and relaxing travel restrictions, added the statement. Domestic RPKs are expected to decline by around 40 per cent this year, while international RPKs are likely to decline by around 60 per cent. “As a consequence, we expect the average trip length to decline sharply this year, by around 8.5 per cent, before gradually recovering thereafter. There is, of course, still plenty of uncertainty around the pandemic and the expected recovery profile for both economic activity and air transport volumes,” reads the statement. The statement further adds that the global aviation sector will take at least five years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. IATA has also stated that it will take five years for global economic activity and air transport industry volumes to recover from the current crisis caused by the pandemic. “Global GDP growth is expected to fall by around five per cent this year, before rebounding, and returning to its 2019 level in 2021. To put this decline into context, it is around four-fold larger than that of the global financial crisis, where world GDP fell by 1.3 per cent in 2009,” reads the statement. Thus the challenges facing the industry will last even beyond this immediate crisis period, the IATA has said.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 17, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.