Coronavirus to deal $27 bil. blow to airlines in Asia-Pacific

Global aviation $29.3B revenue loss expected in 2020

Asia-Pacific airlines face massive $US28 billion revenue loss from COVID-19

Airlines in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose $27.8 billion (£21.6 billion) of revenue this year as they slash flights due to declining demand as a result of the coronavirus, according to a preliminary estimate from an industry body. In December 2019, IATA forecast global revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) growth of 4.1 per cent, so the loss as a result of the COVID-19 virus would more than eliminate any expected growth in 2020, resulting in a 0.6 per cent global contraction in passenger demand the year.

The assessment by the International Air Transport Association means a potential 13 percent full-year loss of passenger demand for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region compared to its original forecast of 4.8 percent growth.

Airlines in China's domestic market alone are estimated to lose around $12.8 billion in revenues.

This brings worldwide airline revenue lost to the virus to a projected $29.3 billion, the IATA said.

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The estimates foresee a scenario where COVID-19 has a "V-shaped impact", similar to what happened during the SARS outbreak in 2003, with a sharp dive followed by a quick recovery, according to IATA.

"Airlines are making hard decisions to cut capacity and in some cases routes", IATA's director-general Alexandre de Juniac said. "Some relief may be seen in lower fuel prices for some airlines, depending on how fuel costs have been hedged", it said.

Qantas Airlines said on Thursday that the virus could carve up to $100 million of pre-tax profit from the second half of the company's fiscal year. And that is reflected in the IHR.

Wang said the situation was "significantly improving" in Hubei and Wuhan, but an official in a central government team dealing with the epidemic said it was still "very severe".

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New figures for Chinese airlines show traffic declines in January, when the coronavirus outbreak became a public health crisis. Relief on airport costs will help maintain vital air connectivity. "Other governments should take good note and act quickly", said de Juniac.

The World Health Organisation, it must be reminded, has not called for restrictions on travel or trade.

See the World Health Organization website for latest advice.

An arriving passenger's temperature is checked February 4, 2020, at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. And when you travel wash your hands frequently and don't touch your face.

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But there are some factors potentially softening the blow, the IATA said.

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