DUBAI: Passenger traffic for Middle East airlines plummeted 97.3 percent in April, versus a less-steeper dive of 50.3 percent a month earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a report.
“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement
“Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US.”
UAE-based Emirates and Etihad Airways will resume some transit flights after the country lifted a suspension on services where passengers stop off in the country to change planes, or for refueling.
Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, would operate transit flights to 29 destinations in Asia, Europe and North America by June 15 while Etihad would carry transit passengers to 20 cities in Europe, Asia and Australia from June 10.
With aircraft of Middle East airlines grounded, and replicated globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, capacity tumbled 92.3 percent while the load factor decreased to 27.9 percent in April.
But IATA said the global demand for air services is starting to show recovery “after hitting bottom in April.”
There “are positive signs are we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time – possibly years – to mature,” de Juniac added.
Meanwhile, the Abu-Dhabi based carrier will extend salary cuts for employees until September even as other UAE airlines Emirates and Air Arabia confirmed job cuts due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Etihad is continuing to consider all options to protect jobs and preserve cash at this challenging time. Regretfully, Etihad has extended its salary reduction until September 2020, with 25 percent reduction for junior staff and cabin crew, and 50 percent for employees at manager level and above. Housing allowance and a number of benefits continue to be paid,” a statement from Etihad said.