New Delhi: Global airlines’ losses will be USD 118.5 billion in 2020 and USD 38.7 billion in 2021, which are deeper than the losses forecast in June as the second half of this year has been very disappointing, said a top IATA official on Tuesday. Also Read - Global Air Passenger Traffic Falls by 79.8% in July: IATA

In June, it was forecast that the global airlines industry might lose something like USD 84.3 billion in 2020, and USD 15.8 billion in 2021, said Brian Pearce, Chief Economist, International Air Transportation Association (IATA). Also Read - Global Air Passenger Traffic Will Not Return to Pre-COVID Levels Until 2024: IATA

Global air traffic has reduced drastically in 2020 due to coronavirus-triggered travel restrictions. Also Read - Airlines Expected to Lose USD 84.3 Billion in 2020 Globally: IATA

“We have been forced, due to a very disappointing second-half of this year, to downgrade those estimates. We now think that the net losses for the industry as a whole will total something like USD 118.5 billion in 2020,” Pearce said at a virtual media briefing.

He said they think it will be substantially reduced in 2021 at just over USD 38 billion.

“But I know that this USD 38.7 billion is on its own much more than the industry loss in the previous crisis of 9/11 or of the global financial crisis (of 2008),” he added.

The IATA represents around 290 airlines across the world comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.

Pearce said, “Although, (in) markets like Latin America, and to some extent India as well, we are seeing traffic now starting to rise but it is disappointingly slow.”

“The market situation is starting to get better. The question is will the airlines in those regions (like India and Latin America) have enough cash to last until the market reaches to the point where it is profitable…We don’t think that is going to be the case in many markets until later next year,” he said.

So, either the airlines in these markets will have to raise more cash from the markets, if they can, or they “face a very difficult future”, Pearce noted.

The IATA thinks that the total airline revenues that will be generated in 2021 will be some 50 per cent below than what it had been expecting in forecasts before the crisis, he stated.

Significant progress has been seen already in markets like China where the domestic market is fully recovered, he added.

While India resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights on May 25 after a gap of two months, scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country since March 23 due to the pandemic.

However, Indian airlines have been permitted to operate special international flights under the Vande Bharat Mission since May this year and under the bilateral air bubble pacts since July.

Under the bilateral air bubble pacts, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. India has formed such pacts with around 20 countries.

(This is published unedited from the PTI feed.)