Global Air Travel Will Recover by 2024
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down economies and especially travel worldwide. Recently many countries started reopening, but it also came with an uptick in new cases and the number of deaths. Now the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released an updated global passenger forecast showing that the recovery in traffic has been slower than had been expected.
IATA predicts that global passenger traffic will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected. The agency, which represents 290 airlines, blamed the slow recovery on a number of factors, such as declining business travel, low consumer confidence and the increase of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States and elsewhere.
The recovery in short haul travel is still expected to happen faster than for long haul travel. Recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels, however, will also slide by a year from 2022 to 2023. For 2020, global passenger numbers are expected to decline by 55% compared to 2019, worsened from the April forecast of 46%.
IATA’s revised baseline forecast is for global enplanements to fall 55% in 2020 compared to 2019 (the April forecast was for a 46% decline). Passenger numbers are expected to rise 62% in 2021 off the depressed 2020 base, but still will be down almost 30% compared to 2019. A full recovery to 2019 levels is not expected until 2023, one year later than previously forecast.
“For airlines, this is bad news that points to the need for governments to continue with relief measures—financial and otherwise. A full Northern Winter season waiver on the 80-20 use-it-or-lose it slot rule, for example, would provide critical relief to airlines in planning schedules amid unpredictable demand patterns. Airlines are planning their schedules. They need to keep sharply focused on meeting demand and not meeting slot rules that were never meant to accommodate the sharp fluctuations of a crisis. The earlier we know the slot rules the better, but we are still waiting for governments in key markets to confirm a waiver,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
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