Global Transport: What does the future hold beyond COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a mobility crisis, mainly because of physical distancing requirements and the necessity to avoid confined spaces, in order to limit the virus’ propagation. This has had a disastrous impact on the global transport sector, with air passenger transport being the most affected segment. According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), air traffic decreased by 94% year-on-year (YoY) in April 2020, and is not expected to return to its pre-COVID level before several years. Moreover, other segments of the transport sector (maritime, rail) are also experiencing a strong deterioration of their activity at the global level, even though some markets (such as rail freight between China and Europe) are benefiting from the situation. The crisis is also affecting planemakers and their suppliers, whose financial health heavily relies on aircraft activity.
COVID-19’s impact on global transport is all the more important as economic activity was already decelerating before the crisis. Additionally, the sector already had to deal with several issues and challenges, like the Boeing 737 crisis for air transport.
Overall, Coface does not expect the sector to recover to fourth quarter (Q4) 2019 level before 2022. In Coface’s central scenario, the turnover of listed companies of the global transport sector will be 5% lower in Q4 2021 than in Q4 2019. By contrast, in a “risk scenario”, in which a second wave of the pandemic materializes in Q3 2020, the turnover would be 27% lower in Q4 2021.
 In Coface’s sector assessment methodology, the transport sector is divided into several segments: air, maritime, road and rail transport, which all take into account both individual and freight transport. In this study, we are focusing on air and rail transport, as well as sea freight.