IATA revises Middle East outlook for 2020; Expects a better 2021

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The global trade association for airlines, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revised its Middle East traffic forecast for 2020 stating that it expects to see only 60 million flyers in the region this year compared to 203 million in 2019.

IATA’s full-year outlook for 2020 reveals that the air traffic in the Middle East region is expected to reach only 30 percent of the numbers witnessed in 2019. The revision is 45 percent lesser than what the body has projected in July.

However, the organization expects the travel to improve to 45 percent of what was observed in 2019 to reach 90 million travelers to/from/within the region.

IATA has alerted to not expect the pre-pandemic level travel demand to happen at least till the end of 2024.

Even though the Middle Eastern sector has shown recovery from its lowest in April 2020 as several counties opened up their air spaces as part of their ease of restrictions, International travel has mostly remained subdued due to the reintroduction of several precautionary measures by governments across the globe as a new wave of COVID-19 infections rise across territories.

Muhammad Albakri
Muhammad Albakri
Regional VP
Africa and the Middle East – IATA

“The slower than anticipated return to the skies for travelers in the Middle East is more bad news for the region’s aviation industry. A few months ago, we thought that a fall in passenger numbers to 45% of 2019 levels was as bad as it could get. “But the second wave, combined with continuing travel restrictions and quarantines, will result in passenger numbers in the region being less than a third of what we had in 2019. This heightens the urgency for governments to adopt systematic Covid-19 testing to restart travel and curb the economic devastation that is being caused because people cannot travel.”

Advance bookings for travel in the fourth quarter of the year have shown slower recovery than what had been expected earlier.