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March 6, 2020

January air traffic showed impact of coronavirus

Photo | Grant Welker A banner at Worcester Regional Airport advertises the city's non-stop destinations.

In a sign of the economic toll that coronavirus is exacting, global air traffic data showed demand in January rose 2.4% compared to last January, the lowest monthly increase since 2010 when volcanic ash from Iceland grounded planes in Europe.

"January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January," Alexandre de Juniac, International Air Transport Association director general and CEO, said in a statement.

The monthly increase was the lowest since April 2010, when an ash cloud in Europe led to massive airspace closures and flight cancellations.

Jets are sitting unused, de Juniac said, and employees are being asked to take unpaid leave. “The COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis that is testing the resilience not only of the airline industry but of the global economy. Airlines are experiencing double-digit declines in demand, and on many routes traffic has collapsed. January also marked the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year declines in cargo volumes.

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