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Estimated global airline losses from the coronavirus pandemic have climbed to US$314-billion, 25 per cent more than previously forecast, owing to the severity of the economic downturn and a slower than previously expected reopening of international routes.

The latest forecast from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is up from the US$252-billion figure given on March 24 and represents a 55-per-cent drop in 2020 passenger revenue compared with last year.

Traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometres is forecast to be down 48 per cent this year, compared with the previously forecast 38-per-cent decline, industry body IATA said at a weekly online news conference on Tuesday.

The pandemic has brought air travel to a standstill, with many airline fleets grounded and no visibility on when travel restrictions will be eased.

IATA has urged governments to provide airlines with liquidity urgently to help them to survive the crisis, warning that many will go bust within weeks unless they receive help.

The trade body, which represents airlines such as Lufthansa and British Airways owner IAG, said it expects domestic markets to be the first to reopen, as has happened in China, with international routes following gradually.

A phased return of international flights would still be problematic for airline finances because most carriers obtain the bulk of their revenue from international routes, IATA said.

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