Global passenger traffic fell by an unprecedented 66 percent in 2020 due to travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an industry group said on Wednesday.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also warned that the emergence of new, transmissible variants of the coronavirus hurt prospects for a recovery this year.
Given that travel restrictions were primarily on international travel, domestic passenger traffic fared better, falling 49 percent, compared with 76 percent for overseas passenger traffic.
Due to travel restrictions imposed during the first wave of the pandemic, global passenger traffic fell to just five percent of its normal levels. Airlines had to park planes on runways because there was not enough space available.
While traffic picked up in summer, it declined by 70 percent in December, ending the year below average.
The IATA, which unites 190 airlines, has not officially cut its prospects for a pickup in traffic this year thanks to the introduction of vaccines, but has warned of the emergence of a new coronavirus that darkened the prospects.