(WNY News Now) – The COVID-19 pandemic’s fallout on transportation industries revealed stark disparities, with passenger transportation suffering heavy losses while freight transportation thrived, according to the 2021 Service Annual Survey.
When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, nations grappled with unprecedented challenges. Sporting events halted, schools shuttered, remote work became the norm, and borders sealed. While these measures impacted all facets of society, their repercussions on the transportation sector were decidedly uneven.
Passenger transportation bore the brunt of the pandemic’s blow. Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation firms witnessed a staggering 60% drop in revenues from $206.8 billion in 2019 to $82.8 billion in 2020. However, with the advent of COVID-19 vaccines and eased travel restrictions in early 2021, the industry exhibited signs of resurgence, experiencing a 60.1% revenue increase to $132.5 billion.
In contrast, freight transportation sectors like Scheduled Freight Air Transportation and Freight Transportation Arrangement weathered the storm more resiliently. Revenues for Scheduled Freight Air Transportation firms increased by 14.9% in 2021, reaching $7.6 billion—up 17.2% from 2019 levels. Deep Sea Freight Transportation also reported gains, with employer firm revenues reaching $6.9 billion in 2021—a notable 8.8% increase from 2020 and a 9.3% rise from 2019 estimates.
This divergence underscores the pandemic’s asymmetric impact on transportation industries, with freight transportation reaping benefits from increased demand and higher prices while passenger transportation grappled with severe setbacks.