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.

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.

Analysis of Economic Impacts of COVID-19

When assessing the economic impacts on civil aviation, ICAO works with many different scenarios in order to reflect the very uncertain nature of the current situation and the rapidly changing environment. The actual path will eventually depend upon various factors, inter alia, duration and magnitude of the outbreak and containment measures, availability of government assistance, consumers' confidence and economic conditions.

    1. Baseline : hypothetical situation without COVID-19 outbreak with forecasts as originally planned;
    2. Indicative Scenario 1 - "V-Shaped" : follows the normal shape for recession where a brief period of contraction is followed by quick/smooth recovery - most optimistic path indicated with a 
    3. Indicative Scenario 2 - "U-Shaped" : indicates prolonged contraction and muted recovery with a possibility of no return to trend line of growth (L-shaped) - most pessimistic path indicated with a ;

The analytical focus revolves around two scenarios, which shall not be considered as forecasts of what is likely to happen, but merely indicators of possible paths or consequential outcomes out of many. Each scenario considers 4 different paths to take into account differentiated terms of supply (output) and demand (spending).

The analytical timeframe has now been extended to Mar 2021 and therefore covers the full year of 2020 and Q1 2021.

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.  

Global Estimates of Impacts in brief

Global-level Analysis of Impacts on International Traffic

Global-level Analysis of Impacts on Domestic Traffic

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 Reports on the Effects 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 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

Share this page: