• Cyril McAree

ITIC Say International Connectivity, Is The Life Blood Of Tourism, In Lock down

Covid-19 is of course not just having a devastating impact on Irish tourism but is reeking havoc throughout the global travel and tourism sector. The number of global air departures scheduled for this week (commencing March 29th) is less than half the level planned at the start of the year. The increase in flight cancellations, while across numerous country markets , is especially marked across Western Europe where international connectivity was cut by more than two thirds last week.

Global air service connectivity has been significantly reduced as the rapid spread of Covid-19 continues resulting in a rapid decline in passenger demand with lock downs in many countries together with the imposition of travel restrictions around the world. The USA, Canada, Australia, Russia, Mexico, New Zealand, and United Arab Emirates are amongst countries to totally ban the entry of foreign nationals. The current situation has seen airline fleets grounded as carriers attempt to mitigate the impact of the current pandemic by reducing costs and cutting non-critical expenditure. The majority of European airlines have made heavy cuts with several, including EasyJet and Stobart, temporarily suspending operations. Most airline schedule cuts are in place for at least April with a few not anticipating any significant change up to end May. According to airport representative council ACI Europe, airports across Europe are likely to see a loss of over 700 million passengers and €14 billion in revenues by the end of April.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of the world’s airlines, has calculated that airlines will see a 38% fall in global demand and a $252 billion loss of passenger revenue 44% down on 2019 - should the severe travel restrictions last for up to three months. The fall in demand is forecast to be deepest in the second quarter ending June 30 with a 71% drop in revenue. The latest analysis IATA has been asking governments to provide a lifeline of financial support, with some airline failures and further consolidation within the sector inevitable. To-date several countries have committed to financial relief, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Qatar, Colombia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, together consideration of support including a $58 billion package in the US and significant support measures from the European Central Bank. The figures speak for themselves. The air transport industry is in its deepest crisis ever. One bright spot is now appearing in China, where Covid-19 began its spread, as Chinese authorities are now beginning to lift restrictions and domestic flights are beginning to ramp up to almost three times the level at the bottom of the cycle back in the middle of February. However, there is no certainty as to when air service connectivity will be able to resume as airlines continue to monitor the situation based on regulations and demand.


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