Omicron causes drop in airline ticket sales
Airline ticket sales fell sharply at the end of 2021, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday, blaming governments for having "over-reacted" to the Omicron Covid variant by closing borders.
The IATA, which groups over 290 airlines, said international air travel had been slowly but steadily recovering from the mass shutdowns of 2020 and early 2021 before the fast-spreading Omicron strain was discovered at the end of November.
Ticket sales in November were 60.5 per cent below their pre-pandemic November 2019 level, marking an improvement on the 64.8 per cent decline recorded a month earlier.
"Unfortunately, governments over-reacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant at the close of the month and resorted to the tried-and-failed methods of border closures, excessive testing of travellers and quarantine to slow the spread," IATA president Willie Walsh accused.
"Not surprisingly, international ticket sales made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, suggesting a more difficult first quarter than had been expected," he added.
IATA members account for 83 per cent of global air traffic.
In October, the association forecast cumulative industry losses of $11.6 billion in 2022, down from an estimated $51.8 billion in 2021 and $137.7 billion in 2020.
The International Civil Aviation Organization said separately on Wednesday that preliminary data shows the number air passengers was down by 49 per cent last year from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
That was an improvement from the 60 per cent drop in 2020.