The pandemic continues to adversely affect many industry sectors including the aviation industry. New revelations about the virus prompted additional regulations and ongoing changes to business processes and customer behavior. Here are some of the topics the aviation industry was talking about in October.
Air Cargo – The airfreight market continues to show signs of recovery
According to ClIVE Data Services’ and Tac Index’s data published in Air Cargo News, the airfreight market showed air cargo volumes down by 17% in August 2020 compared with the same time period in 2019. However, this was a stark improvement over April 2020 data, when freight volumes were down by 41% compared to the same time in 2019.
Strong load factors continue to drive up rates, especially on routes between Shanghai and North America, and Hong Kong and Europe. According to the latest figures from the Tac Index, prices from Shanghai to North America have increased 26% week over week reaching $6.07 per kilogram, while the price from Hong Kong to Europe increased to $3.82 per kilogram, the highest level since the beginning of July.
Airports – Asking for Changes to Aviation Industry Taxation
The Airports Council International (ACI) is asking for an end to “economically inefficient and discriminatory taxation of aviation,” which it believes holds back the recovery of the aviation industry. A recently published ACI policy brief, prepared together with InterVISTAS Consulting Group, shows the lost economic benefits due to heavy passenger taxation. According to data presented by ACI, the aviation sector provides 11.3 million direct and 76.4 million ancillary jobs globally. Despite its important economic contributions, the aviation industry suffers under a heavy tax burden. According to ACI, airport operators globally pay more than $10 billion in taxes, which amounts to 7.6% of all airport costs. ACI estimates that there is an additional $90 billion generated in taxes globally paid by other air transport parties and levied on passengers’ air tickets. Consequently, “Complicated tax regimes across different jurisdictions make it difficult to adequately price air services, are difficult for consumers to understand, and distort real competition in air transport. Tax relief, efficient and transparent tax regimes will support industry recovery and, in parallel, the recovery of the economies we serve,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of Airports Council International. He continued, “To help simplify the situation for all parties and to support the recovery of aviation following the impact of COVID-19, ACI World is calling for fair, transparent and non-discriminatory aviation taxes.”
ACI believes removing the tax burden on aviation-based services would result in an increase of more than 750 million passengers, the creation of 2.2 million additional jobs and an increase of $93 billion in direct GDP. These numbers are based on 2019 travel volumes.
On the Bright Side
The United States military often uses commercial air flights to move its personnel. This prompted the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) & Air Mobility Command (AMC) to conduct a study to determine the risk of a COVID-19 infection during a flight on a commercial aircraft. The tests were conducted on Boeing 777-200, 767-200 and 767-300 aircraft. Tracer aerosols were released in various seats to determine the risk of exposure of passengers sitting in nearby seats. The impact of the aerosols on passengers sitting in the same row and several rows in front and back of a potential infarction source were also reviewed. One of the study’s conclusions, which was released in August 2020, is that, “Aerosol exposure risk is minimal even during long duration flights, but typically highest in the row of an index patient. Rows in front and behind the index patient have the next highest risk on average.” A report published in October by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) further seems to support these findings. “The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that’s one case for every 27 million travelers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travelers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring. Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread,” reports Dr. David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor.