Economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Civil Aviation

In light of the rapidly spreading disease named as COVID-19, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) actively monitors its economic impacts on civil aviation and regularly publishes updated reports and adjusted forecasts. The latest version can be viewed here and all full reports are available further below.

The analytical timeframe has now been extended to Dec 2021 and therefore covers the full year of 2021.

ICAO has also worked alongside the DGCA of Turkey to develop interactive dashboards to monitor four key aspects of the impact of COVID-19 on civil aviation - operational impacts, economic impacts, aircraft utilizations and impacts on country-pair traffic.

Global Economic Impact in brief

Impacts of COVID-19 across industries

The COVID-19 virus has spread worldwide without acknowledging borders. It has impacted all industries, all sectors and all aspects of our lives with devastating economic and financial losses and significant uncertainties.

Within the spirit of collaboration, the below chart gathers information from international organizations representing the impacted industries. This information is subject to frequent change and you are invited to visit the official website of each organization for most up-to-date figures.

Figures are sourced from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airports Council International (ACI), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All figures are in comparison to 2019 data, except for figures marked with an asterix (*) which are compared to 2020 baseline.

ICAO is working alongside the Airport Council International (ACI) in monitoring the developments and to leverage their expertise and analysis conducted on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on airports.  

ICAO Economic Impact Analyses of COVID-19 on Civil Aviation

​Date of Report
​Included updates
​Download PDF Report
  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Preliminary October 2021 results indicate slight overall improvement

  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Slightly upward adjustment to the outlook

  • ​Preliminary results of September 2021 and latest schedule/movement data for the near-term outlook
  • Outlook for year 2021 adjusted downward by around 2 percentage point (with greater adjustment to domestic outlook)

  • ​Preliminary September 2021 results; Asia/Pacific domestic load factor adjusted downward

  • European recovery flattened and Asia domestic recovered faster than expected

  • ​​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing
  • ​Updated economic analysis of COVID-19 impact on air transport with 2021 predictions stabilized to a 2 to 3% range of estimated overall values

  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Preliminary August 2021 results indicate slight overall improvement from July 2021
  • Based on latest estimates, 2021 may experience -47% to -49% reduction of passenger numbers compared to 2019

  • ​Slightly downward adjustment to outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​​​​​Slight downward adjustment to the outlook due to the recent sharp decline of Chinese domestic traffic

  • ​​Downward adjustment to outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Preliminary July 2021 results indicate 7 percentage point improvement from June 2021.

  • ​Slight downward and upward adjustment to international and domestic, respectively

  • ​Updated economic analysis demonstrating a quite stable outlook ( estimates in line with the actual trend);
  • Strong sign of “bottoming out” in Europe 

  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • Latest updates indicate fluctuating projections with frequent upward/downward revisions due to high uncertainties related to the spread of Delta variant
  • Updated analyses from AFRAA, World Bank and UNCTAD 

  • Upward adjustment based on latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Updated results indicating stabilized figures at an aggregated global level; 
  • Recovery trends in Europe and North America; Reduction in Asia/Pacific (except domestic traffic in China) 

  • ​Updated outlook (slightly downward) using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Updated economic analysis including final April results and  tentative May results

  • ​Updated economic analysis with preliminary May results

  • ​​Updated economic analysis including a very light downward adjustment incorporating optimistic summer schedules (North America/Europe) offset by the decline in India et al

  • ​Downward adjustment to Asia/Pacific domestic outlook due to decline of domestic traffic in India, Japan and others

  • Upward adjustment due to higher-than-anticipated load factor  and recent positive improvement in international traffic

  • ​Update including preliminary April results and an upwards adjustment in domestic outlook
  • ​Updated economic analysis including a slight downward adjustment to the 2021 outlook
  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Updated economic analysis including a slight change to the 2021 outlook

  • ​​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing;
  • Updated analysis of IMF, ACI, WTO and UNWTO

  • ​Updated economic analysis with preliminary March results;
  • Significant improvement in domestic traffic in Africa, Asia/Pacific and North America

  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​​First two weeks ADS-B data indicates improvement in overall international and domestic traffic

  • Outlook extended till December 2021 (still preliminary subject to further adjustment and refinement)

  • ​Preliminary February results indicating a dip in capacity and pax

  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Updated economic analysis ;
  • Short-term outlook significantly adjusted downward

  • Updated analytical consideration section;
  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing : further downward adjustment

  • ​Preliminary January 2021 results; near-term outlook adjusted approximately 3% downward

  • ​Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing : downward adjustment

  • Updated structure and format of the analysis​

  • ​October results finalized with preliminary whole year 2020 results
  • The outlook for the first half of 2021 was revised further downward 

  • ​Preliminary November and December results
  • Updated outlook using latest airlines' schedule filing​

  • Updated outlook showing small improvements in December but remaining uncertain; 
  • The outlook for the first half of 2021 was revised downward slightly.

  • Updated outlook using latest airlines' schedule filing

  • ​Outlook was further updated using on the most recent data;
  • November final results show steep drop in European traffic;
  • December preliminary data points towards a slight dip in domestic traffic in North America

  • October results finalized with preliminary November results

  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • ​The near-term outlook was extended for additional 3 months, i.e. from March 2021 to June 2021 covering first half of 2021

  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing

  • September results finalized; preliminary October results;

  • Stronger-than-expected recovery of domestic traffic in October; continued small dip in international traffic;

  • Slightly improved short-term outlook for 2021 with airline revenue losses estimated slightly lower compared to last week

  • ​Continuing from September, international shows a "dip", i.e.  year-over-year negative growth is greater than previous month,  while domestic is slightly improving

  • Updated outlook using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' schedule filing​

  • Updated forecast indicates possible closing of year 2020 at the same levels of air traffic as 2005 - 2006​

  • Outlook updated using latest ADS-B operational data and airlines' winter schedule filing

  • ​August results finalized, preliminary September results
  • September indicates downward trends in both international and domestic air traffic

  • Near-term outlook adjusted in light of almost certain dip in recovery seen in September at a Global, European and North American level​

  • ​Further updates using operational and scheduled data indicating a dip in recovery in September 2020

  • August results adjusted
  • ​Latest near-term outlook for September:
    • Possible dip in recovery (Europe, North America, potentially worldwide) due to airlines gradually withdrawing planned capacity for winter schedules. Operational data for first week of September confirms this trend.

  • Preliminary August results
  • Latest near-term outlook for September:
    • ​Global International: small dip of operational capacity recovery
    • Europe, North America (dom.): similar trend 
    • Africa, Middle East: Capacity recovery momentum (int. and dom.)
    • Asia Pacific, Latin America and North America: continued stagnation at international level
  • Further updates using operational and scheduled data seem to indicate a stabilization over the past two weeks​

  • Adjustment to the outlook based on ADSB and airline schedule changes

  • ​Updated with recent airlines' schedule filings and ADSB data
    • Europe: upward revision 

    • North America domestic: possible soft patch until autumn

    • Asia/Pacific international: grim near-term outlook

  • ​July 2020 semi-final results updated (Appendix C)

  • ​June 2020 actuals finalized;
  • July 2020 actuals semi-finalized;
  • August 2020 - March 2021 estimates refined.

  • ​Analytical timeframe extended from December 2020 to March 2021;
  • Additional figures and analytics;
  • Updated and refined structure.

  • ​Extensive revisions by regions with an a significant upward in Europe and a downward in Asia and Pacific

  • ​Finalization of May 2020 results, semi-finalized June 2020 results;
  • Updated analysis from WTTC, WTO and UNCTAD

  • Analysis covering up to December 2020; revised GDP forecast (IMF)​

  • New refinement using ADS-B operational data and new airline schedules' filing

Compared to last week’s estimates, international estimates were continuously under cloudy sky while domestic estimates went up in some regions. Consequently, overall estimates towards the end of this year were changed by 4 to 7% (scenario 1) and 1% (scenario 2).    

  • Economic model refined with additional factors 

  • ​Estimates refined with most recent schedule updates

  • April final results and May semi-final updates​

  • ​New structure of analytical scenarios - changing from "6 paths under 2 scenarios" to "4 paths under 2 scenarios"

  • ​Further updates; last daily update (going forward, updates will be on a weekly basis)

  • Initiating of further scenario refinement ​and respective updates

  • ​Further updates with latest airlines' schedules filing

  • ​Updates on air cargo estimates

  • Updates to revenue loss estimates from Jan to Apr by region​

  • Estimates updated until 18 May 2020​

  • Updated estimates for first half of May​

  • ​First half of May updated with ADS-B data

  • ​Further updates to international and domestic figures

  • Updates to the new structure under international and domestic traffic​

  • Updated structure ​with full integration of international and domestic analysis

  • Further analysis of domestic traffic​

  • ​Updates to scenario baselines;
  • Included UN-DESA's statistical publication (incl. ICAO's contribution)

  • ​Updates to domestic figures and new UNWTO estimates

  • New preliminary figures on domestic passenger traffic analysis for 2020​

  • April actual operational results; ACI's updated analysis included​

  • ​March results updated with actuals

  • ​Updates to international and domestic impacts

  • ​Comprehensible comparison with industry scenarios/estimates

  • ​Additional figures from EUROCONTROL's scenario

  • ​Additional slides on industry figures (ACI) and further updates

  • ​Analytical period extended from September 2020 to December 2020

  • Included sectorial projections for air passengers (ICAO), airports (ACI), IATA (airlines), UNWTO (tourism), WTO (trade) and GDP (IMF)​

  • ​Updates to Appendix C on airlines' financial losses

  • ​Initial analysis on airlines' financial analysis (operating profit/loss, including pax and cargo)

  • Updates to comparison with 2019​

  • ​Fully-restructured analysis to reflect 6 possible recovery paths;
  • Scope extended for additional 3 months until end Sep 2020;
  • Scenario comparisons with Baseline and with 2019 results

  • ​Updates to actual estimated results for March 2020

  • ​Actual estimated results for March 2020 by route groups

  • ​Included IMF's projection of GDP growth 2020 - 2021;
  • Included IATA's updated analysis of economic impacts;
  • New comparison of Jan and Feb 2020 vs. Jan and Feb 2019;

  • Estimate updates with new schedule changes filed​

  • State level analysis was removed and replaced with Route-group level analysis;
  • Jan and Feb results finalized

  • Additional inputs on air cargo impacts​

  • ​First analysis of impact on air cargo

  • ​Updated with latest airlines' schedule filings

  • ​Preliminary estimates for Q3 2020;
  • Updated actuals of seat capacity for Q1 2020 (using ADS-B data);

  • Adjustment of February actual results;
  • ACI updated estimates included;
  • IATA estimates included​

  • ​Update on Feb actuals in APAC region;
  • Revision of certain April schedules

  • Further updates to regional analysis​

  • All State-level analysis updated with latest schedule updates;
  • Update on global-level analysis for first half of 2020​

  • ​Update on State-level analysis of China (incl. HK, Macao and Province of Taiwan) until end of June 2020)

  • Update on State-level analysis of Korea, Italy and Iran until end of June 2020​

  • ​Preliminary global-level analysis with extension until June 2020

  • ​New analysis on worldwide impacts for Q1 2020 with regional breakdown

  • ​Regional analysis added;
  • Integration of airport estimates from ACI

  • Updates on country-level analysis;
  • Gradual shift towards a global-level focus

  • Analysis on global capacity change per country/territory​

  • Adjustment to regional route estimates: China including​ Hong Kong/Macao SARs and the Province of Taiwan; as well as Iran

  • ​Scenario assumptions on load factor adjusted to reflect operating results from Feb 2020;
  • Models for Korea and Italy fine-tuned.

  • ​Updated analysis of China, Hong Kong/Macao SARs and the inclusion of Taiwan, Province of China
  • Updated structure to a global-level analysis

  • ​Update on Korea, Italy and Iran, as well as US-Schengen impacts

  • Update on Italy and US-Schengen impacts

  • Preliminary analysis of economic impact on US-Schengen air traffic due to new US travel policy​

  • Updates on Italy with current lockdown-related changes to schedules;
  • Preliminary analysis to Japan and Singapore added

  • Update on Italy due to current lockdown​

  • ​Updates with latest schedule changes filed by airlines;
  • Full analysis on Iran.

  • New summary page; separate analysis for Korea and Italy under the same format;
  • Adjustment to China domestic ​

  • Enhanced analysis of Republic of Korea;
  • New analysis on Italy​

  • Updates on China, Macao and Hong Kong SAR reflecting further schedule updates​

  • Further adjustments to previous update

  • ​Main scenario analysis updated with latest changes of March schedules

  • ​Initial analysis of scheduled international passenger service from/to Mongolia

  • Initial analysis of scheduled international passenger service from/to Iran​

  • Initial analysis of scheduled international passenger services from/to Republic of Korea​

  • Update on Macao's figure and regional break-down of airline revenue loss​

  • Updated scenarios to reflect schedule changes filed by airlines​

  • Preliminary estimates of Chinese domestic impact​

Economic Context for Civil Aviation

Aviation provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business. It generates economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates  international trade and tourism.

Source: Aviation Benefits Report, 2019

The air transport industry supports a total of 65.5  million jobs globally. It provides 10.2 million direct jobs.  Airlines, air navigation service providers and airports directly employs around three and a half million people. The civil  aerospace sector (the manufacture of aircraft, systems and  engines) employs 1.2 million people. A further 5.6 million people work in other on-airport positions. Another 55.3 million indirect, induced and tourism-related jobs are supported  by aviation.

One of the industries that relies most heavily on aviation is tourism. By facilitating tourism, air transport helps  generate economic growth and alleviate poverty. Currently, approximately 1.4 billion tourists are crossing borders every  year, over half of whom travelled to their destinations by air. In 2016, aviation supported almost 37 million jobs within the  tourism sector, contributing roughly USD 897 billion a year to global GDP.

Both air passenger traffic and air freight traffic are expected to  more than double in the next two decades. Forecasts indicate that in 2036, aviation will provide 98 million jobs and generate USD 5.7 trillion in GDP - i.e. a 110% increase from 2016.

Source: Aviation Benefits Report 2019, IHLG

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