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ICAO: up to 1.2 billion fewer international air travelers by September

Compared to “business-as-usual”, by September 2020 international air passenger totals could drop by as many as 1.2 billion travellers according to the latest projections from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ICAO ran two projections compared to baseline:

  • V-shaped path (a first sign of recovery in late May); and

  • U-shaped path (restart in third quarter or later).

The impacts depend on duration and magnitude of the outbreak and containment measures, the degree of consumer confidence for air travel, and economic conditions, etc.


Its estimates also show that international capacity could drop by as much as two-thirds from what had been forecast for the first three quarters this year, leading airline revenues to drop by as much 160 to 253 billion dollars for the January to September period.

Europe and the Asia-Pacific will be hardest hit by the capacity and revenue impacts, followed by North America. Similarly, the most substantial reduction in passenger numbers is expected to be in Europe, especially during its peak summer travel season, followed by the Asia-Pacific.

The UN’s civil aviation agency has been providing regularly updated analyses on the economic impact of COVID-19 on air transport since early February 2020.

Because air connectivity is so critical to economic and sustainable development in every world region, this information is of critical importance to the many national governments and regional organizations now planning for their COVID-19 economic recoveries.

As overall severity and duration of the pandemic are still uncertain, ICAO has developed six different recovery paths under two indicative scenarios to explore the potential short-term economic implication of the COVID-19 pandemic.

—ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu


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