Must-know: Impact of Ebola outbreak on airline passenger traffic

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Oct. 23 2014, Updated 8:00 a.m. ET

Passenger traffic before Ebola 

The passenger traffic between the three regions with Ebola in west Africa has been severely affected to destinations in Europe and North America. According to OAG, in 2013 before the Ebola outbreak, 2,64,300 passengers traveled by air from the three African countries to Europe or North America.

  • 40% traveled from Freetown, Sierra Leone. The top markets were London and Washington Dulles.
  • ~20% traveled from Monrovia, Liberia. The top markets were London and New York.
  • 40% traveled from Conakry, Guinea. The top markets were Paris and Brussels.

 Part8_Flight restrictons and suspension

Flight cancellations     

In the past few months, the number of flights reduced by ~37%. 216 of the 590 monthly flights scheduled to Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia were canceled as of August 2014. OAG’s latest analysis also shows that as of October 10, 2014, the year-over-year (or YoY) capacity and frequency in these regions decreased by ~64%. The number of flights scheduled from the African countries to destinations around the world decreased from 427 in May 2014 to only 152 flights in October.

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A number of entry restrictions, flight bans, and cancellations were implemented by major air carriers to reduce the transmission of the disease. Also, the flights to and from these destinations were disrupted due to delays and diversions when passengers showed Ebola symptoms and flights had to be grounded.

Countries implemented travel restrictions by banning flights from the infected African countries. The countries include Gambia, Gabon, Senegal, and Cameroon. The major airlines that restricted flights include Air France (or AF.PA), Asky Airlines, Arik Air, Gambia Bird, Kenya Airways, British Airways, Emirates, Korean Air, and Senegal Airlines.

In the next part of the series, we’ll discuss how major U.S. airlines—including Delta (DAL), American (AAL), United (UAL), Southwest (LUV), JetBlue (or JBLU), and Alaska (or ALK)—were impacted by the outbreak.

Investors can gain exposure to these stocks through exchange-traded funds (or ETFs) like the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN). XTN holds ~40% in airline company stocks.

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