The impact of COVID-19 on air passenger demand and CO2 emissions

Very glad to share that we have a new paper where we analyze the impact of COVID-19 on air passenger demand and CO2 emissions in Brazil. Here for more info about the paper (including PDF, code, data and preprint).


  • COVID-19 caused a 63% drop in CO2 emissions in the Brazilian aviation market.
  • 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 were avoided by the Brazilian aviation sector in 2020. This is equivalent to one year of CO2 emissions from all domestic flights in France.
  • The pandemic also led to lower fuel efficiency with more emissions per capita due to lower occupancy rate on flights.
  • Despite such a sharp reduction in aviation demand, passenger demand recovered to 64.2% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020.
  • This fast recovery suggests that the emissions could soon return to pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating how hard it can be to achieve significant and sustained emission reductions in the aviation sector.

ps. Having this paper accepted makes me particularly happy. This study was previously desk rejected by 5 transport and/or environmental journals. We’ve heard from editors that the study was not relevant enough or that the focus on Brazil was of too narrow interest. Seriously? đŸ€Ą Had we written the exact same paper looking at data for the United States, would we have received the same feedback? Anyways, after so many frustrating attempts, we aimed higher for a much better journal and it got accepted

Fig. Daily number of passengers and CO2 emissions observed in the data and in counterfactual estimates for domestic flights in Brazil, 2020.

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