The effect of COVID-19 on the aviation industry has been far-reaching, impacting passenger travel in every corner of the world. The following update was created to help you better understand the implications of the current environment and get a clearer view on the market.
One of the important metrics that airlines monitor on a regular basis is Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPK). RPKs measure an airline’s demand for their service and are calculated by multiplying the number of paying passengers by the distance traveled, giving airlines a clear indication of the demand in given markets. As RPKs measure the actual demand for air transport, it is often referred to as airline “traffic.”
With international air travel still largely restricted, year-on-year Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPK) on international routes showed a decline of 96.8% in June, which is a slight improvement from the 98.3% in May. To that point, when compared with May, all regions recorded a modestly smaller RPK decline.
Domestically, RPKs contracted in June by 67.6% year-on-year compared with 78.4% in May. On the positive side, weekly aircraft movements in July indicate that key domestic markets are continuing to show signs of recovery. Russia, the US and Japan experienced the fastest increase in flights in the first half of the month, while Brazil, Australia and China are undergoing a more gradual recovery.
To measure passenger carrying capacity, the industry uses Available Seat Kilometers (ASK), which captures the total flight passenger capacity of an airline in kilometers. ASK is determined by multiplying the total number of seats available for scheduled passengers and the total number of kilometers in which those seats were flown.
According to IATA, decline in capacity eased slightly in June as airlines returned some of their grounded aircraft back to service due to rising demand. Industry-wide Available Seat-Kilometres (ASKs) contracted by 80.1% year-on-year – an improvement of 6 ppts compared with May. The Asia Pacific region continued to post the most resilient outcome, with ASKs down 70% year-on-year.
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