Air travel demand in decline as lockdown sees internet use skyrocket

Paris/Geneva, Apr 29 (efe-epa).- Lockdowns enforced across the world as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus have put the brakes on the airline industry with a 52.9 percent drop in demand but as people spend more time in the household online traffic has skyrocketed by 60 percent, according to two separate reports Wednesday.

Amid warnings of dire economic consequences to the sector and with more airline companies planning mass lay-offs to save money, the International Air Transport Association said passenger demand for air travel had more than halved in March compared to the previous year.

“This was the largest decline in recent history, reflecting the impact of government actions to slow the spread of Covid-19,” the group, which brings together more than 300 companies, said in a report.

The Asia-Pacific region was the worst-affected with a 60 percent fall in demand, followed by Europe with 51.9 percent, North America with 49.8 percent, the Middle East with 46 percent, Africa 44.6 with percent and Latin America with 39.3 percent.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said: “March was a disastrous month for aviation. Airlines progressively felt the growing impact of the COVID-19 related border closings and restrictions on mobility, including in domestic markets.

“Demand was at the same level it was in 2006 but we have the fleets and employees for double that. Worse, we know that the situation deteriorated even more in April and most signs point to a slow recovery.”

While demand for air travel was in decline, internet usage in developed nations has shot up, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The organization, which has 37 member states, its report showed an unprecedented rise as more and more people work from home and use online forms of entertainment.

Video conference calls had gone up by 120 percent, according to the study, while social media site Facebook has seen a 100 percent increase in voice calls and a 50 percent increase in messaging on platforms like WhatsApp.

In Italy, the number of group calls being made on average since the Covid-19 outbreak had multiplied by 10.

The OCDE pointed out that some streaming platforms like Netflix, Youtube and Akamai had agreed to lower their picture quality in order to handle the surge in traffic at key hours in Europe.EFE-EPA


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