A forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast on Tuesday said that airlines are set to lose $84 billion as the coronavirus pandemic reduces revenue by half to mark the worst year in the sector's history.
With most of the world's airliners currently parked, IATA said revenue would likely fall to $419 billion from $838 billion last year.
"Every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses," IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said, which could amount to an average loss of almost $38 per passenger flown.
In 2021, IATA warned losses could hit $100 billion as traffic struggles to recover and airlines slash fares to win business.
"Airlines will still be financially fragile in 2021," De Juniac said, predicting "even more intense" competition.
"That will translate into strong incentives for travellers to take to the skies again," he added.
However, IATA forecasts a rise in 2021 revenue to $598 billion. Passenger numbers are seen falling to 2.25 billion this year before rising to 3.38 billion in 2021, still more than 25 percent below 2019 levels.
Yields, a proxy for fares, are seen falling 18 percent this year, contributing to a $241 billion decline in passenger revenue.
Cargo, a relatively small share of the overall business, brought some relief as mass plane groundings drove price increases expected to top 30 percent, IATA said, helping revenue to a near-record $111 billion.
Airlines are counting the cost of weeks of lost business, piling debt swollen by bailouts and a diminished demand outlook. Even in markets where COVID-19 infection rates have fallen sharply, airlines still face a patchwork of travel restrictions and wary consumers like quarantine norms for arriving passengers at many destinations.