Heathrow airport
Passengers have dropped and flights have been canceled all over the world. Photo: Supplied

The airline industry could lose up to US$113 billion in revenue this year due to the impact of the new coronavirus, an industry body warned Thursday, as the epidemic spreads rapidly worldwide.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated revenue losses to airlines’ passenger business of between $63 billion and $113 billion – with the higher figure for a scenario where the virus spreads more widely.

The more dire prediction amounts to a 19% loss in worldwide passenger revenues, IATA said.

“Financially, that would be on a scale equivalent to what the industry experienced in the global financial crisis,” said a statement from the group.

It was a far bleaker assessment than two weeks ago, when IATA forecast revenue losses would come in at $29.3 billion. 

But since then the virus has spread rapidly outside China, where it first emerged late last year, and has now reached some 80 countries and territories. More than 95,000 people have been infected and over 3,200 have died worldwide.

“The turn of events as a result of Covid-19 is almost without precedent,” said IATA head Alexandre de Juniac, following a meeting in Singapore. 

“In little over two months, the industry’s prospects in much of the world have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.”