Global air travel is bouncing back more like a slug than a basketball. It’s now so splat that – despite the Australian government’s recent hint that international flights could return to Australia as early as January 2021 – the trade association for the airline industry has predicted we won’t return to pre-pandemic air travel levels until 2024.
The International Air Transport Association announced this yesterday, pushing back their original prediction (2023) by one year, amid the slow containment of the outbreak in the U.S. and in developing countries.
The industry is seeing a bounce back when compared to the hard shutdown in April, but IATA chief economist Brian Pearce told media the increase was, in the scheme of things, “barely visible.”
Pearce said that air travel is not rebounding in step with the rising levels of business confidence in Europe, the US and China.
As AP reports, “Traffic was down 86.5% in June from the same month a year ago, compared with a drop of 94.1% in April, measured as revenue passenger kilometers, or the distance traveled by all revenue-generating passengers.”
That improvement is “nowhere near the increase in business confidence,” according to Pearce.
With the travel industry both in Australia and abroad also being fettered by weak consumer confidence (and sliced and diced travel budgets), this IATA prediction has caused Australians with itchy feet to express their dismay on Twitter.
“International travel might not resume until 2024” ……… I’ll be 26 by then??????
— ANDREA (@13274838_) July 29, 2020
Some bemoaned their wasted wanderlust years, while others (Pedestrian TV) took the chance to get their pun on.
— PEDESTRIAN.TV (@pedestriandaily) July 29, 2020
Others pointed out we might be trying to run before we can walk, as we haven’t yet figured out how to reopen our borders yet, let alone return to normal levels of visitors.
Unfortunate reality seems like this as linked; https://t.co/PU3IWt3M9y
— Nirjal Luitel (@nep545) July 29, 2020
An Australian man also commented on the irony of the situation…
With all this depressing news, what I really need is a holiday. Oh wait… https://t.co/hIYsVfCtVA
— Spiderbloke (@bluebristolian) July 29, 2020
… while an American man proved it’s not just Aussies who are upset by this news.
IATA projecting International Travels won’t return to 2019 demand until 2024…
Hell nahhhhh 😩😩😩
— BRA/\/DILLA (@BrandonBatugo) July 29, 2020
A statement the IATA has released in relation to their 2024 prediction helps sum the situation up: “There is little sign of virus containment in many important emerging economies, which in combination with the U.S., represent around 40% of global air travel markets. Their continued closure, particularly to international travel, is a significant drag on recovery.”
As AP reports, “Despite parking many of their planes, airlines are struggling to fill seats with enough people to make money. Planes were only 62.9% full on domestic flights around the world, well below levels at which airlines make money, and an abysmal 38.9% for international travel.”
In other words: unless you can make it to Bermuda and take the Caribbean island up on its new remote work offer, you’re likely to be scratching your itchy feet at home for the immediate future.