Latest ICAO forecasts: 1.5 billion fewer international air travellers this year


According to the latest ICAO air passenger forecasts, airlines may be faced with 1.5 billion fewer international air travellers this year. In parallel, international seat capacity could drop by almost three-quarters, resulting in a 273 billion dollar loss compared to previously expected gross operating revenues.

“In the latest updated analysis, the analytical timeframe was extended for another three months to December 2020, and more reliable airfare data was used to calculate revenue reduction,” advised ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu.

ICAO has been providing regularly updated analyses on the economic impact of COVID-19 on air transport since early February 2020, and is providing continuous guidance to air transport planners, regulators, and operators. The projections are significant to many countries now planning their COVID-19 recovery scenarios, given the importance of tourism, global supply chains, and many other air connectivity factors to local socio-economic prosperity.

The full version of the new ICAO report, along with all other ICAO forecast and guidance materials, are available free of charge for governments, the industry and the general public through the UN aviation agency’s COVID-19 information portal.

Analysis of economic impacts of COVID-19 – Global and State-level

When assessing the economic impacts on civil aviation, ICAO works with many different scenarios in order to reflect the very uncertain nature of the current situation and the rapidly changing environment. In order to explore the potential economic implication of the COVID-19 pandemic for the near future, the full report is built around six different recovery paths under two indicative scenarios. The actual path will eventually depend upon various factors, inter alia, duration and magnitude of the outbreak and containment measures, availability of government assistance, consumers’ confidence and economic conditions.

  • Baseline : hypothetical situation without COVID-19 outbreak with forecasts as originally planned;
  • Indicative Scenario 1 – “V-Shaped” : follows the normal shape for recession where a brief period of contraction is followed by quick/smooth recovery – most optimistic path indicated with a
  • Indicative Scenario 2 – “U-Shaped” : indicates prolonged contraction and muted recovery with a possibility of no return to trend line of growth (L-shaped) – most pessimistic path indicated with a
The analytical focus, in this report, is on the near-term with monthly profiles from Jan to Dec 2020 and on international traffic only. Scenarios 1 and 2 are not forecasts of what is likely to happen, but merely indicators of possible paths or consequential outcomes out of many. Each scenario considers three different paths to take into account differentiated terms of supply (output) and demand (spending).

Impacts of COVID-19 across industries
The COVID-19 virus has spread worldwide without acknowledging borders. It has impacted all industries, all sectors and all aspects of our lives with devastating economic and financial losses and significant uncertainties.
Within the spirit of collaboration, the below chart gathers information from international organizations representing the impacted industries. This information is subject to frequent change and you are invited to visit the official website of each organization for most up-to-date figures.
Figures are sourced from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airports Council International (ACI), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All figures are in comparison to 2019 data, except for airport revenue figures which are compared to 2020 baseline.