DUBAI: Middle Eastern airlines reported a 2.2 percent year-on-year decline in international cargo volumes in November, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to have an impact on the aviation sector.
“The lack of international connectivity is hampering air cargo recovery in the region, however seasonally adjusted demand remains on an upward trend,” the IATA said in relation to Middle Eastern carriers.
The drop in regional volumes was not as bad as the global average, the association found.
“Air cargo demand is still down 6.6 percent compared with the previous year. However, we are seeing continuing month-on-month improvements. Severe capacity constraints persist as large parts of the passenger fleet remain grounded. This will put pressure on the industry as it gears up to deliver vital COVID-19 vaccines,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director-general and CEO.
While Saudi Arabia recently started to open up again to international travel, passenger numbers for November — when access was restricted — made for grim reading.
Middle Eastern airlines’ demand was down 86 percent year-on-year in November, which was slightly improved from the 86.9 percent demand drop in October.
Unlike cargo, regional passenger numbers were lower than the global average, which was down 70.3 percent year-on-year in November.
“Vaccines offer the long-term solution,” de Juniac said. “In the meantime, testing is the best way that we see to stop the spread of the virus and start the economic recovery.”