COVID-19 made 2020 the worst year on record for air travel, industry statistics have revealed.
The aviation industry saw a 60 percent decrease in the number of passengers flying in 2020, according to statistics released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Only 1.8 billion passengers flew in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the previous year.
Air connectivity also dropped. The number of routes connecting airports worldwide fell by 60 percent year-on-year in April 2020.
Total revenues from passengers fell by 69 percent to $189 billion in 2020, representing a net loss of $126.4 billion.
The decline in the number of air passengers transported in 2020 was the largest recorded since records began in the 1950s.
“2020 was a year that we’d all like to forget. But analyzing the performance statistics for the year reveals an amazing story of perseverance,” said IATA director Willie Walsh in a statement.
“At the depth of the crisis in April 2020, 66 percent of the world’s commercial air transport fleet was grounded as governments closed borders or imposed strict quarantines,” he added.
“A million jobs disappeared. And industry losses for the year totaled $126 billion.
“Many governments recognized aviation’s critical contributions and provided financial lifelines and other forms of support.
“But it was the rapid actions by airlines and the commitment of our people that saw the airline industry through the most difficult year in its history,” said Walsh.
Dubai’s Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, posted a loss of $5.6 billion for 2020 as revenue fell by 66 percent.
The airline announced in June that it would be restoring its flight capabilities to more than 90 percent of its network by the end of July.