Covid-19 impact dwarfs Sars

BANGKOK, 17 February 2020: Airlines are facing losses of USD4 to USD5 billion during the first quarter of this year they suspend services due to the  Covid-19 virus outbreak.

The United Nations aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation said estimates 70 airlines cancelled flights to mainland China and another 50 cutback services. 

It translates into an 80% fall in foreign airline capacity to and from China. Chinese airlines have cut back capacity by 40%.

In terms of flight and seat capacity declines, the travel industry across Asia faces financial impacts far exceeding the fallout from the 2003 Sars pandemic.

ICAO also estimates that Japan would lose USD1.29 billion in tourism revenue in the first quarter of 2020, while Thailand could suffer a USD1.15 billion drop.

Chinese tourists, travelling individually and in groups, account for 16% of the world’s international travel spend. That has virtually closed due to the lock-down in China, the ban on the sale of package tours and the suspension of visa privileges for Chinese. 

And there is more bad news. Even if the virus runs out of steam over the next few months experts who study crisis recovery times suggest it could take 10 to 19 months to shake off the impact of Covid-19 and get economies back on track.

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