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30 Apr, 2020 15:57

No-fly year: 1.5 BILLION fewer air travellers in 2020 amid Covid-19 crisis, UN aviation agency predicts

No-fly year: 1.5 BILLION fewer air travellers in 2020 amid Covid-19 crisis, UN aviation agency predicts

The pandemic has hammered the airline industry worldwide. With seat capacity dropping by three-quarters, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) predicts a drop of 1.5 billion passengers by the end of 2020.

In a statement released on Thursday, the ICAO, the UN’s aviation agency, predicted that, by December, passenger numbers will have fallen by more than a third on the most recent figures from 2018.

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The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions have posed an existential threat to the airline industry. While the ICAO broadly supports grounding flights, it states on its website that “longer-term restrictions are normally not effective once appropriate containment measures are in place.”

In the US and much of Europe, talk has now shifted to how and when to lift the current lockdown measures. For the aviation industry, this is a matter of survival. The International Air Transport Association estimates that as many as 25 million jobs in the industry could be lost worldwide, and several airlines – Flybe and Germanwings to name but two – have already permanently ceased operations. Others, such as Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, and Air France, have pleaded for government bailouts.

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