Airlines cut domestic fares by an average 23 per cent last month as traffic picked up from April lows, global industry body IATA said on Wednesday, warning that post-coronavirus discounting posed a further threat to profitability.
Domestic passenger traffic rose 30 percent globally in May from a very low base in April, when much of the industry was brought to a near-standstill by the COVID-19 pandemic, IATA said in an online presentation.
“Airlines need cash because of the crisis and they’re seeking to encourage passengers into seats by offering low fares,” IATA Chief Economist Brian Pearce said.
“The challenge (is) that unit costs will have been increased by a number of restrictions that have been put in place,” he said, predicting “quite a difficult time for airlines” as flights gradually resume.
A return to profitability remains a distant prospect for many carriers, and the crisis may cost the industry $314 in lost revenue, IATA predicts.
In Europe, low-cost airlines including Wizz Air and Ryanair have said they expect to win business from full-service rivals in a discount-driven recovery.