Air passenger numbers are expected to reach 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, with the airline industry returning to profit “within reach” in 2023 despite ongoing uncertainty, the International Air Transport Association said on Monday.
Industry losses are expected to narrow to $9.7 billion this year, a “major improvement” from $137.7 billion in 2020 and $42.1 billion in 2021, IATA said in an updated forecast ahead of the annual total. congregations in Doha.
“Airlines are resilient. People are flying in increasing numbers. And freight is doing well amid growing economic uncertainty,” IATA CEO Willie Walsh was quoted as saying in a document.
The airline industry has been reeled by the pandemic, with passenger numbers down 60 percent in 2020 and down 50 percent in 2021. Airlines lost nearly $200 billion in two years.
While some firms in the sector have gone bust, others, often state-backed, have emerged from the pandemic with profits intact.
IATA said industry-wide profitability “appears within reach” in 2023, adding that North American airlines are expected to recoup $8.8 billion this year.
More than 1,200 aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2022, with cargo volumes set to reach a record 68.4 million tonnes, “despite economic challenges,” he added.
“Strong pent-up demand, the lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment rates in most countries and increased personal savings are fueling a resurgence in demand that will see passenger numbers rise to 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022,” IATA. said.
Airlines desperate to end the coronavirus pandemic are entering talks in Doha ahead of a potential summer of chaos with shortages and strikes that could threaten their recovery.
While trade is picking up, aviation industry representatives meeting until Tuesday in Qatar have a busy agenda with multiple geopolitical crises, including the war in Ukraine and the environment.
Cracks in the sector’s recovery are already showing, although industry data is optimistic about the future despite challenges.
Over the past few weeks, flight delays and cancellations caused by lack of staff at airports and strikes to raise wages have taken their toll on travelers.
The problems arise because of the pandemic, when airlines and airports laid off thousands of workers during the worst crisis. Now they are fighting for employees.
Also due to the ongoing disruption, IATA has been forced to move its AGM from Shanghai to Qatar as China continues to fight the pandemic.
The global association represents 290 airlines, which account for 83 percent of air travel worldwide.
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© Agence France-Presse