One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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air travel plummeted during the pandemic

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The Briefing

  • In the spring of 2020, two-thirds of the world’s passenger jets were grounded
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions have had a significant impact on commercial air travel—for 2020, the industry reported an estimated net loss of $118.5 billion

One Year In: Air Travel Plummeted during COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s no surprise that the commercial air travel industry took a hit in 2020, given the pandemic-induced travel restrictions that began early last year.

However, it’s worth noting the sheer magnitude of the situation—according to IATA, COVID-19 was the most drastic hit to the industry since World War II.

Low Air Travel, Steep Losses

To measure air traffic, IATA uses the industry-wide metric revenue passenger kilometers (RPK). RPK is calculated by taking the number of revenue-paying passengers, and multiplying that by the total distance traveled.

In 2020 as a whole, RPK dropped by 66%—the steepest yearly decline in aviation history. As a result, the global aviation industry reported an estimated net loss of $118.5 billion.

International vs. Domestic

International air travel was hit a lot harder than domestic travel—in 2020, RPK for the worldwide international market fell 75.6%. In April, when strict lockdowns limited travel the most, international RPK was down 98% year-over-year.

In contrast, domestic only dropped by 48.8% in 2020 as a whole.

In terms of regional markets, Asia Pacific saw the largest decrease in RPK, with a decrease of more than 80%.

International MarketRPK for 2020 (% year-on-year)
Africa-69.8%
Asia Pacific-80.3%
Europe-73.7%
Latin America-71.8%
Middle East-72.9%
North America-75.4%

On the domestic side of things, Australia saw one of the steepest drops in RPK, at 69.5%. This makes sense, given the country’s relatively strict COVID-19 restrictions and regional lockdowns.

Domestic MarketRPK for 2020 (% year-on-year)
🇦🇺 Australia-69.5%
🇧🇷 Brazil-49.0%
🇨🇳 China-30.8%
🇮🇳 India-55.6%
🇯🇵 Japan-53.6%
🇷🇺 Russia-23.5%
🇺🇲 U.S.-59.6%

Note: These domestic passenger markets accounted for 46% of global total RPKs and approximately 84% of total domestic RPKs in 2020

The Future Looks Bright

While 2020 was a tough year, the future of aviation looks promising.

For example, China’s domestic market showed a negative correlation between new COVID-cases and RPK. When cases were down, RPK increased drastically, showing that there’s pent-up demand.

So once the virus is eradicated and restrictions are lifted, IATA expects flight activity worldwide to bounce back, as they did in China.

» Want to learn more? Check out our COVID-19 information hub to help put the past year into perspective

Where does this data come from?

Source: IATA December 2020 Report

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Super-Sized Bets for Football’s Big Game (2013-2022)

Expanding legalization has driven an increase in bets on football’s big game, with wagers more than doubling from 2021 to 2022. (Sponsored Content)

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Dollar value of bets for football's big game shown over the last ten years using footballs. The football is much bigger in 2022 to indicate that bets doubled from 2021 to 2022.

The Briefing

  • Sports betting became legal outside Nevada when the federal ban was lifted in 2018.
  • Legalization contributed to betting growth, with wagers on football’s big game increasing ten-fold over the last decade.

Super-Sized Bets for Football’s Big Game

With 99 million viewers in 2022, “more Americans tune in to the Super Bowl than any other television broadcast.” Its large viewership, combined with expanding legislation, has led to ballooning wagers.

In this graphic sponsored by Roundhill Investments, we show how these bets have grown over the last 10 years.

Annual Legal Bets on the Big Game

From 2013 through 2018, sports betting was only legal in Nevada and year-over-year growth was low. However, when the federal sports betting ban was lifted in May 2018, more states started allowing bets.

By 2022, 33 states plus Washington, DC were legally able to bet on the game. Wagers climbed quickly as a result.

YearTotal BetsAnnual Growth
2013$99M5%
2014$119M21%
2015$116M-3%
2016$133M14%
2017$138M4%
2018$159M15%
2019$191M20%
2020$280M47%
2021$486M73%
2022$1.1B119%

Data only for states that report bets on football’s big game, see graphic for full list of states included in 2022.

Impressively, legal bets surpassed the $1 billion mark in 2022. Growth was primarily driven by New York State legalizing online sports betting, with the state contributing nearly $500 million to the total.

Since the New York State Gaming Commission does not report event-specific totals, we have estimated this amount based on sports bets made the week leading up to and including the date of the big game.

Investment Exposure to an Emerging Industry

Due to legalization, bets on football’s big game have grown 10 times larger over the last decade. A further shift away from bookies and toward legal operators appears to be likely. In September 2022, 89% of Americans said it was important to bet with a legal operator this NFL season, up from 76% in February 2022.

For legal operators, this could translate into revenue opportunities. Companies that take legal bets reported more than $62 million in revenue from the big game alone in 2022, a 37% jump from the prior year.

Looking for exposure to the growing sports betting industry? Explore Roundhill’s sports betting ETF, $BETZ.

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