Global Airline Industry Records $201Bn In COVID-Related Losses

The International Air Transport Association has set the combined losses for the industry at over $200 billion as travel curbs weigh on corporate and long-haul demand well into 2022.

According to the industry’s main body, airline carriers are set to post a collective deficit of $11.6 billion for next year, due to the very slow recovery rate in the globe-spanning business routes which are very profitable to many carriers.

Summing up losses from the peak of the pandemic in 2020 till date, the IATA notes that the combined losses total $201billion, a figure that trumps close to nine years of industry earnings.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the U.S. would open its borders to trans-Atlantic visitors next month, but other long-haul markets would remain inactive, especially those connecting Asia with Europe and North America.

“The magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis for airlines is enormous,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh told the largest gathering of chief executives officers from the industry in more than two years. “People have not lost their desire to travel as we see in solid domestic market resilience. But they are being held back from international travel by restrictions, uncertainty and complexity.”

To aid the recovery, Walsh called on governments to simplify complex travel restrictions and allow vaccinated travellers to move freely between countries.

“Travel restrictions bought governments time to respond in the early days of the pandemic,” he said. “Nearly two years later, that rationale no longer exists.”

Losses this year will total almost $52 billion in the US, IATA predicts, worse than the $48 billion estimated in April, after flights remained limited through the normally lucrative northern summer.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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