ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens, said: “The second week of March 2020 was a turning point for the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, as national governments implemented strict confinement measures which brought the industry to a virtual halt. While the crisis’s impact on passenger traffic was mostly in the Asia-Pacific region in February 2020, by March 2020 figures showed its spread across the world, affecting both domestic and international markets.” She continued: “Global freight volumes have not been affected to the same extent as passenger traffic. The need to move time-sensitive shipments and vital supplies – including urgent medical supplies and goods to support the global economy – helped the freight industry avoid the level of declines in demand experienced by the passenger traffic segment.”
Passenger traffic: Global international and domestic passenger markets posted unprecedented declines, falling by 62.4% and 50.6%, respectively. Among major regional passenger markets, Asia-Pacific was the most impacted, with declines of 77.6% in March 2020 for its international market and 54.4% to its domestic market. The Middle East recorded a loss of 58.6%. North America and Europe were also badly affected by the ongoing crisis, losing more than half of their international passenger traffic in March (50.4% and 60.1%, respectively). Africa’s passenger gains in the first two months of 2020 were erased by significant losses in March (a 46.0% decline). Latin America-Caribbean’s good performance in the beginning of the year was offset by a loss of 41.1% in March 2020, compared to the prior year.
Freight volumes: The international freight market moved significantly into negative figures in March 2020, with a loss of 15.7%, compared to the slight gain of 0.4%% in February 2020. For the third consecutive month, domestic freight continued its downward trend, reaching a fall of 11.1% for the month, down from 2.4% in February 2020 and 4.4% in January 2020. As a result, total freight figures for March 2020 posted significant declines at 14.4%.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has appeared in all major freight markets. The global double-digit decline posted in March 2020 was mostly driven by Asia-Pacific (17.2%) and Europe (16.4%). North America, on the other hand, recorded a less significant drop of 6.6% in total freight volumes, mitigated by a relatively modest decrease in its domestic traffic of 1.6%. North America’s international freight market, however, showed signs of weakness in falling by 13.8% for the month of March 2020. The Middle East (17.9%), Africa (20.8%) and Latin America-Caribbean (23.4%) posted declines in line with major markets for March 2020.