Air travel industry predicted to lose £250bn this year due to coronavirus

The world’s airlines are predicted collectively to lose $314bn (£250bn) in revenue in 2020 compared with a year earlier as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As global air travel approaches a near-standstill, with the vast majority of planes grounded, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has downgraded an already gloomy forecast.

The aviation industry now expects revenue to drop by 55 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019.

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The updated figures reflect a significant deepening of the crisis in aviation in the past three weeks.

IATA expects the economic shock of the Covid-19 crisis will be at its most intense between April and June, with GDP expected to shrink by 6 per cent – three times worse than at the height of the global financial crisis.

Passenger demand closely follows changes in economic output.

But severe travel restrictions imposed by individual governments to fight the spread of the virus are expected to be much more damaging.

Alexandre de Juniac, director-general and chief executive of IATA, said: “The industry’s outlook grows darker by the day.

“That puts at risk 25 million jobs dependent on aviation. And without urgent relief, many airlines will not survive to lead the economic recovery.

“If airlines are not ready, the economic pain of COVID-19 will be unnecessarily prolonged.”

IATA’s chief economist, Brian Pearce, said: “We assume domestic markets will be the first to re-open.

“Opening international travel restrictions is more problematic.”

Domestic flights are now expanding in China, where the coronavirus outbreak began, but there are strict measures in effect on international air travel to the People’s Republic.

On a more optimistic note, Mr Pearce added: “There is a large amount of pent-up demand, should health and travel restrictions allow it to return to the market.”

The trade association is calling for more government support for airlines.

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