Daily Flights Have Fallen By A Shocking 75 percent

It’s no surprise that there are currently fewer planes in the skies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the outbreak’s unprecedented impact on the global aviation industry has forced a staggering 75% in passenger flights compared with this time last year.

The majority of the world’s scheduled flights have been suspended. Photo: Getty Images

What a difference a year can make

Data gathered by FlightAware shows that there were 98,163 flights across the globe on April 2nd, 2019. However, on the same date a year later, there were only 26,884 services in the air. In comparison, this year kicked off with five percent more traffic than New Year’s Day 2019. There were 88,309 flights on January 1st, 2020, ahead of the 84,045 services on the same day the year before.

Thereafter, worldwide demand started to reduce amid fears of the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, the majority of flights continued to operate, with some airlines reducing capacity to match the market climate.

Worldwide traffic comparison
While flight numbers grew in March last year, there was a significant slump this year. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightAware

A turn for the worse

However, on March 11th, the World Health Organization formally announced that the outbreak was to be classified as a pandemic. This sparked a massive shift within the global economy as a whole. Governments started to enforce harsher restrictions to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Lufthansa tails getty images
Lufthansa is just one of several airlines impacted by the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

This period also saw more countries enforcing travel restrictions and even fully closing airports. Additionally, South American and African nations started to be proactive with their approach after Europe became the pandemic’s epicenter. 

On March 10th, there were 87,204 flights in the air but just ten days later, there were only 62,783 of them. While international policies became more strict as the month closed, this number continued to drop by the day.

Daily flights March
Even though there were gradual reductions beforehand, there was an instant slump in the middle of March. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightAware

The United States was one of the first major nations in the Western Hemisphere to announce some sort of travel restriction during March. However, nearly half of the current operations are flying thanks to the nation’s traffic. 

Altogether, 12,406 of the flights conducted yesterday can be attributed to US services. Other worldwide operations that make up several of the flights still going are rescue missions to get passengers home during the restricted period.

US and Worldwide air traffic
US airlines have been in close communication with the White House amid the impact of the outbreak. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightAware

Large scale impact

Ultimately, flight numbers are likely to continue to drop over the next few weeks while the epidemic heads towards its peak in various countries. Once authorities and aviation bodies review the situation, there may be a more balanced approach with the bans.

Singapore Airlines A380 Aircraft
Carriers will be eager to fly high as soon as possible. Photo: Getty Images

Passengers rely heavily on air travel for both personal and economical reasons. Therefore, if the downturn continues, it could have a harsh impact on the wellbeing and financial situation of many people. Hopefully, when analyzing statistics such as this next year, we will be seeing a reverse trend.

What are your thoughts on how much the passenger aviation industry has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic? How have you been impacted by the changes? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

The flight data in this article was sourced from FlightAware.