International passenger traffic dropped by 60 per cent in 2020, making it the worst drop in 17 years, a report by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has revealed.
ICAO also said that international airlines lost at least $370 billion during the past year, which was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the industry globally.
This is as ICAO in its Economic Impact Analysis of COVID-19 indicated that the number of air travel recorded globally was back to 2003 levels in the past year.
According to the international body data, seat capacity fell by 50 per cent last year, passenger totals dropped by 60 per cent with just 1.8 billion passengers taking to the air during the first year of the pandemic, compared to 4.5 billion in 2019.
It said that its numbers also pointed to airline financial losses of $370 billion resulting from the COVID-19 impacts, with airports and Air Navigation Services Providers (ANSPs) losing a further $115 billion and $13 billion, respectively.
The pandemic plunge in air travel demand began in January of 2020, but was limited to only a few countries.
As the virus continued its global spread, however, air transport activities came to a virtual standstill by the end of March.
With the wide-scale lockdown measures, border closures, and travel restrictions being set out around the world, by April the overall number of passengers had fallen 92 per cent from 2019 levels, an average of the 98 per cent drop-off seen in international traffic and 87 per cent fall in domestic air travel.