The restrictions on mobility and the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop in air passengers in Spain of 80% between the months of June and August and of almost 70% so far this year, according to the report presented. this Tuesday by the Air Lines Association (ALA). Its president, Javier Gándara, has described the summer as a “disastrous season” for the sector and asks to extend the ERTE, in which 80% of the sector’s workers are, until Easter.
The association, which brings together more than 80 national and international companies, including Air Europa and Iberia, has also recorded a 64% drop in flights this summer, indicating that, in addition to flying less, the planes carried less. passengers. “The average load factor [de los aviones] it has been below 60% ”, detailed Gándara. “At these levels, practically no company can be making money. The focus now is to minimize losses ”, he added. The numbers for Spain, according to the report, are similar to those of the European Union, where air traffic has been cut this summer by around 70%.
The positive news is that passengers on domestic flights have fallen less and have managed to soften the blow to the sector. In the month of August they fell by 42% compared to 2019 and in July by 62%. The other great hope was European traffic, which fell by 80% in July and August. “The good escalation that July was having stalled, especially as the United Kingdom began to put restrictions and other countries followed” due to the outbreaks of covid-19 in Spain, said the president of ALA. On the other hand, intercontinental flights have been practically non-existent (-94%), “since the vast majority of traffic with other continents is restricted,” he concluded.
Looking ahead to the next few months, the association’s predictions are not rosy. For September and October they expect to offer 60% of the places that operated in 2019, “remembering that this is the offer; the demand of the passengers will be much less ”, has detailed Javier Gándara. To stimulate the increase in passengers, the representative of the airlines predicts a drop in prices in the winter season. “But this stimulation of demand has a limit, if there is no confidence in the consumer, no matter how much you lower prices, you will not be able to stimulate demand.” In the long term, the level of passengers prior to the pandemic is not expected to recover until 2024, Gándara has summarized.
The president of ALA has taken the opportunity to send a message to the Government and has asked for a plan of aid for the survival and subsequent recovery of the airlines. Javier Gándara has requested the extension of the ERTE “at least until Easter 2021” for the air and tourism sector. According to this Tuesday’s report, more than 80% of the workers in the sector who entered these files in April continue in ERTE.
Asked if companies will cut their workforce due to the crisis, Gándara has not closed any doors. “For now, ERTEs have allowed a season to pass with less supply and demand without restructuring measures (…), but it cannot be ruled out that different companies, within not too long, have no choice but to adapt their resources to the new levels of demand ”.
The president of ALA has also asked to facilitate liquidity to the companies and develop a “more ambitious” airport tariff scheme that “would not necessarily have to be borne by Aena.” The representative of the airlines has asked for an incentive in passenger and landing rates without a prior threshold “that would allow lower rates” for passengers. Finally, it has claimed to increase the line of public guarantees for airline loans from 70% to 90% “because different companies are having difficulties when talking to banks.”