African air travels declined 98.7% in April – IATA

IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac
Alexandre de Juniac


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported yesterday that Africa’s airlines passengers’ demand plunged by 98.7% in April, as against the 49.8% drop recorded in the preceding month.

This is even as it stated that passengers’ traffic dropped 94.3% globally as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continued its toll on key sectors of the global economy.

According to the organisation, the April decline has never been “seen in the history of IATA’s traffic series, which dates back to 1990.”

According to the association, in Africa, the capacity contracted 87.7%, and load factor dived 65.3 percentage points to just 7.7% of seats filled, lowest among regions. 

On a global scale, it reported that domestic traffic fell 86.9% in April, with the steepest declines registered in Australia (-96.8%), Brazil (-93.1%) and the US (-95.7%). This was a sharp deterioration compared to a 51.0% decline in March. Domestic capacity fell 72.1% and load factor dropped 44.3 percentage points to 39.5%.

The figures, IATA said, show that daily flight totals rose 30% between the low point on 21 April and 27 May. But as countries reopen their economy, it said demand for air services would begin to grow after hitting an all-time low in April and expressed optimism that on early recovery from the current worrisome level.

“This is primarily in domestic operations and off of a very low base (5.7% of 2019 demand)…In addition, it is the very first signal of aviation beginning the likely long process of re-establishing connectivity,” IATA said. 

The association’s Director-General, Alexandre de Juniac, also confirmed the gradual takeoff of aviation business beginning with domestic operations.

He said, “April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis. Flight numbers are increasing.

“Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US. These are positive signs as we start to rebuild the industry from a standstill. The initial green shoots will take time — possibly years — to mature.”