Airline trade union says air travel won't recover before 2024

Airline trade union says air travel won't recover before 2024
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The trade union for the airline industry predicted Tuesday that air travel will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is delaying its original forecast by a year, citing slow containment of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and developing countries. 

“Their continued closure, particularly to international travel, is a significant drag on recovery,” a release from the trade association stated. 

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The group pointed to a sharp decrease in corporate travel and weak consumer confidence as reasoning for the slower recovery. 

IATA chief economist Brian Pearce told reporters in an online briefing that while airlines are seeing more travel since the lockdowns in April, the improvement is “barely visible,” according to The Associated Press

June’s air travel, measured in the distance traveled by all paying fliers, decreased 86.5 percent compared to last year, slightly better than May, which saw a drop of 91 percent compared to 2019.

Pearce said the increase in the distance traveled by passengers was “nowhere near the increase in business confidence.” The IATA attributed the improvement to increasing domestic travel within China. 

Planes reported filling 62.9 percent of capacity for domestic flights around the world, while international flights filled 38.9 percent of their seats. 

As states have reopened in the U.S., certain areas of the country have seen surges of COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly within the Sun Belt states. The U.S. has confirmed more than 4.3 million cases of coronavirus, leading to at least 148,298 deaths. 

The resurgence is causing some states to scale back their reopening plans by closing bars or limiting alcohol sales.