The crisis in the aviation sector started in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented situation. It is the first health crisis that has had such a global impact worldwide. For example, the SARS health crisis in 2003 only impacted Asia. The two main recent examples of global crises are: the crisis in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks that brought about a paradigm shift in security and also forced the restructuring of the sector; On the other hand, the 2008 economic crisis was also global in nature and meant the reduction of the number of air operators, the acceleration of the low-cost model and a different behaviour of leisure and business passengers.
Therefore, the current crisis is expected to involve changes like those of previous crises and also to introduce a new paradigm of trips with a “health guarantee” in order to restore consumer confidence. Additionally, due to the exceptional financial situation of the majority of airlines and the demand that is expected to be slow and very sensitive, a gradual recovery is to be expected.
Many countries as a result of the pandemic have closed their borders to the transit of people and only allow the entry of nationals or residents (see figure 1). Tourism has obviously been very impacted since it is not possible to travel for leisure to most countries and only some trips are allowed and for essential reasons.
In all regions of the world there has been a reduction in the offer of seats with respect to the one originally proposed until reaching a total reduction of 40% of international passengers in March 2020 (ICAO source, see figure 2). The reduction of flights in the first three months of 2020 in the airline sector has reduced the RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometer) an average of 48% compared to the previous year according to (source IATA, see figure 3). Reduction rates have been different since the same pandemic has affected distinct regions in different ways and times.
Many airlines have seen their money inflow reduced, so many have looked for ways to reduce their costs through employment regularization plans (as in the specific case of the main airlines in Barcelona) and maximize their public or private financing channels. Large aeronautical groups such as IAG, LH, AF / KLM or American companies have not been an exception and the states have gained prominence when trying to revive these business groups.
Recovery depends largely on the lack of confinement applied in each country and the regulations of each one that allow the free movement of people between them. This lack of confinement is expected to be staggered and not at the same time what will have implications for the air sector. The affectation in different regions at different times will probably make international connections and especially intercontinental ones more complicated.
Source:Barcelona Chamber of Commerce - https://www.cambrabcn.org/documents/20182/51403/Observatori+37_maig+2020.pdf/b1fdd19b-c26d-009c-92ec-7c66b6e46c92