A passenger checks flight information on a board in the departure lounge of Madrid Barajas Airport.
Paul Hanna | Bloomberg | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – More than two decades of passenger traffic growth were erased in 2020, according to a new report.
"The pandemic and its aftermath have wiped out global passenger traffic growth by 21 years in just a few months, reducing traffic this year to 1999 levels," said Cirium, a travel data and analytics company.
"Compared to the previous year, passenger traffic is expected to decrease by 67% in 2020," said a press release.
In 2020, only 2.9 trillion passenger kilometers (RPKs) were registered worldwide, compared to 8.7 trillion in 2019. RPKs are used as a measure of air travel.
The aviation industry was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as countries closed their borders to contain the spread of the disease.
According to Cirium, the airlines operated 16.8 million flights from January 1 to December 20, 2020. This corresponds to a decrease of 33.2 million in the same period of 2019.
More than 40 airlines have completely ceased or ceased operations, and experts say more will fail in 2021, according to Cirium.
Road to recovery
The Asia-Pacific region and North America are "fastest to establish themselves on the long road to recovery," according to Cirium's Airline Insights Review 2020 report.
This trend was reflected in Cirium's list of the world's busiest airports, which was dominated by airports in the US and China.
David White, vice president of strategy at Cirium, admitted big cities like New York, Beijing and Shanghai were missing from the list and told CNBC that airports like John F. Kennedy in New York were "disproportionately affected" in their international traffic normal times. "
"Airports such as Minneapolis, O'Hare, Chicago, (Dallas-Fort Worth), Atlanta and Charlotte have significantly higher traffic than JFK due to the volume of domestic flights at these domestic hub airports," he said. A similar pattern has been reported observed in some Chinese airports.
International flights were down 68% compared to 2019, while domestic travel was down 40%.
Cirium expects passenger demand for air travel to recover in 2024 or 2025, with domestic and leisure travel being the first segments to show a "sustained recovery".