US traffic at 1977 levels: AFJ North America 2020 | News | Airfinance Journal

US traffic at 1977 levels: AFJ North America 2020


The US domestic market today is operating at levels not seen since 1977 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, according to Boeing Commercial Aircraft ,vice president, commercial marketing Darren Hulst.

“Since 1977 the industry has grown 10 times. Back then the US domestic travel represented 40% of the global travel. In 2019 it was less than 20%,” he tells delegates at the Airfinance Journal North America 2020 virtual conference.

How deep the virus has impacted the aviation industry is also reflected on a global basis.

“The global level of RPKs are sitting at the 1983 levels,” he adds.

Hulst says that, based on the US TSA daily data, traffic in July has been between 25% and 30% of the levels of the month of July 2019, depending on the day.

On average, there are around 500,000 passengers flying compared with 2.5 million in July 2019.

“We have seen a continued improvement in passenger traffic. This week traffic is up 1% on last week,” he says.

Hulst says about 50% of passenger operations are back worldwide. 

“Some regions have rebounded quicker than others, and is accelerating in some regions.” 

He cites China, now at 76% of passenger operations recovery, while Latin America, which is now the centre of pandemic, at 34% only.

Europe features at the same levels of the worldwide passenger recovery, benefiting from a dramatic surge in flight operations over the past month.

Hulst says between 20 and 26 July, flight operations in Europe have risen 133% when compared with the week of 15 and 21 June.

He notes that the US had an early recover but the shape of the recovery has started to slow down in pace as a results of restrictions.

Alton Aviation managing director John Mowry says restrictions between states and countries, the economies as well as the search for a vaccine are key parameters in the consultancy's outlook.

Alton puts forward three recovery potential scenarios to clients, he reveals.

The most opportunistic case is led by a vaccine and government supporting the economies, envisages a full recovery to 2019 levels by the end of 2021.

The most pessimistic scenario, which includes harder to get vaccine, restrictions continue between states and countries and the economic activity is depressed for three years, anticipates a full recovery to 2019 levels by 2025 for domestic travel and two years later for long haul travel.

“We think the middle of the road scenario is probably more likely and might see a traffic recovery on domestic short haul by 2022 and a few years later on the international side.”

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