Air industry flies toward profit
June 21, 2022 - The International Air Transport Association predicts an increase this year in passenger levels to 83 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, after two pandemic-hit years in which airlines lost nearly $180 billion.
“Airlines are resilient. People are flying in ever greater numbers. And cargo is performing well against a backdrop of growing economic uncertainty,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said.
Total demand for air travel in April 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was up 78.7% compared to April 2021 and slightly ahead of March 2022’s 76.0% year-over-year increase.
International RPKs in April were down 37.2% compared to pre-pandemic levels in the same month in 2019, while domestic RPKs were 25.8% below 2019.
IATA predicts $782 billion in 2022 with net post-tax profits of -$9.7 billion.
Cargo, a rare bright spot for air transport in the depths of the pandemic, will retreat slightly with revenues of $191 billion -- still, double the level of 2019.
However, airlines, desperate to put the coronavirus pandemic behind them, are facing a potential summer of chaos with shortages of personnel and strikes that could threaten their recovery.
During the pandemic, airlines and airports laid off thousands of workers, and now they are trying to rehire them.
“With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities,” Walsh said.