The number of air passengers fell 66% in 2020 compared to 2019, a record setback due to the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on Wednesday.
This is "the biggest shake the industry has ever experienced," summed up Brian Pearce, the organization's chief economist, in a video conference.
As a consequence of border closures and other restrictions imposed in an attempt to control the pandemic, domestic routes performed slightly better than international traffic (-75%), Pearce added.
The IATA, which groups 190 airlines in the world, also warned that the prospects for recovery in 2021 are "clouded" by the appearance of new variants of Covid
-19, although it did not formally revise its forecasts for the year downward.
"We are starting 2021, which we still expect to be a recovery year, from a very low point," Pearce said, while expressing hope that vaccination will trigger a recovery in demand by the end of the year.