Air France-KLM’s Traffic Dropped By Half In March

Air France-KLM released its traffic figures for March today and, unsurprisingly, figures are down. Way down. The group carried a total of 3.1 million passengers in March, a massive drop of 57% compared to March 2019. The group also confirmed today that it will be running a “skeleton operation” over the coming months, as travel restrictions continue to cause problems.

KLM Planes at terminal
KLM carried over 1 million passengers fewer in March than in February. Photo: Pigpen_71 via Flickr

Air France-KLM’s traffic report for March is a sad reflection of the current state of the aviation industry. Almost every single number is down. The load factor is down by a huge 21 points. The special repatriation flights run by Air France, KLM and Transavia have helped to boost some figures. However, overall traffic at the two main carriers is down 51% compared to 2019.

Area Breakdown

The biggest drop was to the Asia-Pacific region where capacity was cut by 48%. Demand was also down in this area with a load factor drop of 30%. The group’s short-and-medium-haul capacity was also dropped by 44% with a load factor decrease of 25.5%.

The best performing area for the group was it’s Caribbean and Indian Ocean operations. The group only cut capacity by 22%. However, it was Africa and the Middle East which fared best when looking at the load factor. The area had a load factor of 67.3%, down just 13% from March 2019.

Transavia plane
Transavia only carried half a million passengers in March, down 56%. Photo: Patrick Janicek via Flickr

The total number of passengers on long-haul flights dropped by 48.6% compared to March last year, with just over a million passengers traveling long-haul in March this year. When compared to February of this year, over two million people flew long-haul. That’s one million people just not flying.

When looking at the year-to-date figures between 2020 and 2019 the drop off in March is clear. While the group carried almost 50% less long-haul passengers in March this year, they are actually only 15% behind where they were this time last year. The year was off to a good start before the virus chaos.

The figures for Latin America are even better. The group has only carried 9% fewer passengers compared to its results from last year when looking at the year to date. But 38% fewer passengers in March alone.

KLM Cargo plane
Air France-KLM’s cargo operations were fairly strong as passenger operations were cut. Photo: Nathan Coats via Flickr

Another plus point for the group is that cargo activity did not fall quite as sharply. A 28% reduction in capacity is almost matched by the 29% drop in traffic. Cargo load factors remain relatively unchanged at 61.5% versus 62.3% a year ago, a difference of less than 1%.

The coming months

Examining Air France-KLM’s figures for the past month is a little depressing and, unfortunately, it’s about to get worse. This is the last set of traffic figures the group will release for a while. I guess they just don’t want to document such a difficult and uncertain time. They confirmed that they are “unable to provide insight due to the high level of uncertainty over the duration of the crisis and continuously monitors the situation”.

Air france plane runway
Air France-KLM will no longer be producing monthly traffic reports as it prepares to cut capacity even further. Photo: Oliver Cabaret via Flickr

However, they have confirmed that they are planning to suspend over 90% of the current planned capacity for April and May. They will continue by “serving key city pairs by a skeleton operation from their respective hubs” as travel restrictions continually change.

The group’s Q1 results are due to at the start of May so even if we don’t’ see any figures before then, we should get a solid update of the group’s standing on the 7th of May.