Coronavirus – Effects on air travel

The aviation industry is facing tough times in the throes of the coronavirus epidemic

From an aviation business perspective, the news flow has been filled with increasingly bleak reports, as many airlines have fallen following an abrupt stop to their operations and others have had to temporarily lay off most of their pilots. Travel restrictions have begun to be lifted recently, enabling airlines to restart their operations. Those aiming for a career in aviation may have had doubts about the idea, as the training is expensive and the industry’s outlook appears grim at times like this. Nevertheless, it is good to bear in mind that this is a temporary situation and that air traffic will return to its former levels over the next few years.

Finnair and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimate that air traffic will return to the level of 2019 in 2-3 years

“This is an extreme shock to air traffic, and the recovery will be slow. The coronavirus will be part of our everyday lives for long. We anticipate air traffic to return to normal and achieve the level of 2019 over a timespan of 2-3 years. We aim at increasing the flexibility of operations in every way possible, and we have drawn up various scenarios,” Manner says. Source: Lentoposti

Air travel scenarios
IATA and Tourism Economics modeled two air travel scenarios.

Baseline Scenario
This is contingent on domestic markets opening in Q3, with a much slower phased opening of international markets. This would limit the air travel recovery, despite most forecasts pointing toward a strong economic rebound late this year and during 2021.
In 2021 we expect global passenger demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, RPKs) to be 24% below 2019 levels and 32% lower than IATA’s October 2019 Air Passenger forecast for 2021.
We don’t expect 2019 levels to be exceeded until 2023.
As international markets open and economies recover, there will be further growth in air travel from the 2020 low point. But even by 2025 we would expect global RPKs to be 10% lower than the previous forecast.

Pessimistic Scenario
This is based on a slower opening of economies and relaxation of travel restrictions, with lockdowns extending into Q3, possibly due to a second wave of the virus. This would further delay the recovery of air travel.
In this case, global RPKs in 2021 could be 34% lower than 2019 levels and 41% below our previous forecast for 2021.
Source: IATA

What should those looking to enter the aviation industry do in this situation?

We urge everyone dreaming about working as a pilot to hold on to their dreams and strive toward them patiently. There will certainly be ups and downs along the way; air traffic and the related jobs largely go hand in hand with global economic development. The prevailing situation is a highly unusual one, and it should be remembered that if you start your training today, your graduation will follow in about 1.5-2 years, and the employment situation will probably be a lot better then than today.