Passenger traffic in the Middle East fell by almost 46% in March, reversing an increase of 1.6% in February, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Demand for air travel has ‘fallen off a cliff’, as Boeing’s CEO David Calhoun put it, and IATA’s latest new data shows a near 53% decline in global traffic last month compared to March 2019.
This was the largest decline in recent history, reflecting the impact of government actions to slow the spread of Covid-19.
In seasonally adjusted terms, global passenger volumes returned to levels last seen in 2006.
Capacity in the Middle East fell 33.5%, and load factor dropped 13.7 percentage points to 59.9%.
“March was a disastrous month for aviation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO.
“Airlines progressively felt the growing impact of the Covid-19 related border closings and restrictions on mobility, including in domestic markets.
“Demand was at the same level it was in 2006 but we have the fleets and employees for double that. Worse, we know that the situation deteriorated even more in April and most signs point to a slow recovery.”