How Covid-19 Let The Flights Drop

Covid-19 has completely changed the world. While some industries are profiting or at least not being affected as much, aviation and tourism is suffering like nobody else.

While the number of passenger flights was close to 45 million in 2019 (44’988’996), the number went down by some 34.61% to some 29.4 million in 2020 (29’419’374). Overall, roughly one third less of traffic. However, the picture looks even worse when looking at the details.

Number of Passenger Flights in 2019
Number of Passenger Flights in 2020

While the first three months of 2020 were not too bad, with some decreases in Asia, the rest of the world was more or less still stable. However, the decline became very visible in April in Europe, later followed by North and South America. 2020 was therefore not a full year of Covid-19, it rather started.

Governments reacted very different. While some helped their airlines with cash (written off by governments), others received money on credit terms (hence, it will have to be paid back one day), and some did not get anything at all. They either had to look for aid on the private market or went bankrupt. But even those that did receive money had different conditions that came with it: the range is pretty much from no conditions at all, keeping all labor or forced to have a certain percentage of flights operating.

For the reasons mentioned above, comparing the number of flights against each other is not always that easy or even possible at all.

Those suffering most were the Middle East, Africa and Europe, all with more than 50% of decrease in flight volumes. There are several reasons leading to that result, but a big contributor is for sure that there are several countries within those regions and different travel restrictions made travel more difficult, if not impossible at all. In North America, mainly in the US, the biggest airlines got government aid but were also forced to have a certain number of flights operating. In addition to that, the US is one large country and the domestic network helped to avoid travel restrictions that applies by travelling from one country to another.

In Latin America, mainly due to missing government help, not only for aviation but for many industries and individual persons, airlines kept flying. People learned to live more easily with the virus while others are having complete or partial lockdowns.


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