Global air traffic to recover 88% of pre-COVID-19 level in 2022; IATA

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Air Travel
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In 2022, the global air passenger traffic is expected to recover to 88 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels and it is estimated to surpass this level during 2023, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, releasing a long-term view for post-pandemic demand recovery.

The IATA and Tourism Economics in their long-term view said, “people remain eager to travel in the short and long-term.” To ensure that aviation can sustainably deliver its social and economic benefits as it meets this long-term demand, it is critical that governments step up their support for more efficient operations and an effective energy transition.

This year, global passenger numbers are expected to recover to 52 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels. By 2030, global passengers are projected to have grown to 5.6 billion and it would be 7 percent below the pre-pandemic forecast.

According to data from the United Nations-backed International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) the total number of passengers carried on scheduled services rose to 4.5 billion in 2019, up 3.6 percent from the previous year.

Beyond 2030 air travel is expected to slow, due to weaker demographics and a baseline assumption of limited market liberalization, giving average annual growth between 2019 and 2039 of 3.2 percent. IATA’s pre-COVID-19 growth forecast for this period was 3.8 percent.

The rebound in air passenger traffic remains slightly stronger than the recovery in demand measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs), which is expected to grow by an annual average of 3 percent between 2019 and 2039, IATA said in the statement adding that this is due to the strength of domestic markets like China which have large passenger numbers.

Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh
Director General – IATA

“We are in the deepest and gravest crisis in our history. But the rapidly growing vaccinated population and advancements in testing will return the freedom to fly in the months ahead. And when that happens, people are going to want to travel. The immediate challenge is to reopen borders, eliminate quarantine measures and digitally manage vaccination/testing certificates. At the same time, we must assure the world that aviation’s long-term growth prospects are supported with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. Both challenges require governments and industry to work in partnership.” 

The aviation industry is committed to cutting its net carbon emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050. It already has a good track record of decoupling emissions and demand growth per passenger journey in half since 1990 through efficiency gains, but governments need to step up as well, Mr. Walsh said

A low-carbon energy transition for aviation has commenced with sustainable aviation fuels that are powering flight today, to be followed by electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft. And there is much more that can be done with infrastructure, airports and air traffic management, to operate with maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.

Related: IATA welcomes surging number of nations opening borders for vaccinated travelers