Global Airline Revenues Dropped By 67% to $191 billion In 2020

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By Jastra Kranjec

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the airline industry, as countries worldwide shut down borders and limited travel to control the spread of the virus.

Massive cancellations of flights since the beginning of 2020 caused staggering losses to the world’s largest airline companies and huge drops in airline passenger traffic.

According to data presented by, the global air passenger traffic is estimated to have dropped by 60% to 1.8 billion passengers in 2020.

Air Passenger Traffic Below 2004 Levels, Scheduled Flights Down by 43.5% YoY in December

Before the coronavirus outbreak hit the globe, the airline industry grew at a steady pace across all countries.

The International Air Transport Association data showed the number of scheduled passengers handled by the global airline industry had been increasing for the last 15 years and jumped from 1.9 billion in 2004 to 4.5 billion people in 2019.

Such an impressive growth of air travel was caused by the rise of the middle class, growing airport infrastructure spending led by the Asia Pacific, and the surge of low-cost carriers, who almost doubled their market share in this period.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of scheduled passengers boarded by the global airline industry dropped to 1.8 billion people in 2020, even below 2004 levels. Statistics show this figure is expected to recover to 2.8 billion in 2021, still 40% less than pre-COVID 19 estimations.

The OAG Schedules Analyser data revealed the number of scheduled flights worldwide was down by 43.5% YoY for the week starting December 14th, 2020.

Analyzed by countries, Singapore witnessed the most significant drop in scheduled flights, 89% less compared to the same month a year ago.

Hong Kong ranked second with an 87.7% year-over-year drop.

Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy follow, with 76.6%, 73.5%, and 69.5% decrease, respectively.

Commercial Airlines’ Passenger Revenue to Hit $287 billion in 2021, 50% Less than in 2019

Before the COVID-19, worldwide commercial airlines’ passenger revenues grew each year and jumped from $323 billion in 2005 to $612 billion in 2019. However, the International Air Transport Association data revealed staggering financial losses caused by the pandemic, with revenues expected to have dropped by 67% YoY to $191 billion in 2020.

In 2021, this figure is forecast to recover to $287 billion, still only half the 2019 revenues.

Analyzed by regions, the European airports are expected to witness the biggest financial hit, with revenues plunging by $38.8 billion due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The revenues of the Asia Pacific airports are forecast to plunge by $27.6 billion year-over-year. North American airports follow, with a $21 billion drop, respectively.

Statistics show the government aids issued directly to airlines in response to the COVID-19 shock amounted to $161.9 billion as of September.

Almost $100 billion was provided as direct aid, and the rest were wage subsidies, fuel charges, and corporate tax reliefs.

About Author: 

Jastra is an editor, writer, and PR specialist with years of experience in the news, research, and report writing. She has worked in different fields of journalism and public relations, including politics, economy, and financial markets.