March 2, 2023

IATA confirms 2022 was year of recovery for airlines around the world

During 2022, there was a strong bounce back in air traffic, which reached 68.5% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels according to IATA.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed the recovery in air travel in 2022, with a full return to pre-pandemic levels expected for 2024. Higher profits are also forecasted for this year.

64.4% growth of passenger travel between 2021 and 2022

US$4.7 billion expected net profit of airlines estimated by IATA for 2023

2024 IATA expects full recovery of air traffic for next year

‘Revenge travel’ is the best term to explain the recovery of travel demand around the world in 2022. It was a leading factor in the jump in air passengers’ traffic last year, according to the International Air Transport Association IATA.

Over the course of 2022, global air passenger traffic recovered substantially as travel restrictions were lifted explains IATA. Passenger traffic grew from 41.7% of 2019 volumes in 2021 to 68.5% in 2022. This represented a growth of 64.4% between 2021 and 2022, when measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs). In December 2022, total traffic even reached 76.9% of December 2019 level.

North American carriers led the industry. Passengers’ traffic volume in RPKs was only -11.3% under 2019 volumes, followed by Latin American and European carriers respectively at -14.2% and -22.2%.

World international traffic in 2022 climbed 152.7% versus 2021 and reached 62.2% of 2019 levels. In December 2022 international traffic reached 75.1% of the level in December 2019.

Domestic traffic for 2022 rose more moderately, at 10.9% compared to the prior year, after recovering strongly in 2021. Environmental concerns slowdowned growth on domestic routes last year, particularly in Europe. Countries such as France, Germany or the UK have seen a lower level of domestic passengers as less flights were made available. However, domestic traffic stood in 2022 at 79.6% of the full year 2019 level.

Available seat-kilometers (ASKs) recovered to 71.9% of 2019 levels with passengers’ load factor reaching 78.7%. Passenger load factors for 2022 were only 3.9 percentage points below 2019.

IATA expects airlines to post a net profit of US$4.7 billion in 2023, the first one since 2019 with full recovery expected in 2024.

Hall 25 / Stand 206

Asia Pacific, air transport’s bright star in 2023

All eyes are now turned to the Asia Pacific region. The region was the last one in the world to lift travel restrictions, allowing for passengers and airlines to return to the skies. 2022 saw the first improvement: performed RPKs in 2022 were 54.4% under the levels of 2019. December reflected alreadythe end of China ‘Zero Covid’ Policy with international RPKs in Asia Pacific up 302.7% Year on year. Growth in the region will accelerate this year, especially as China PR allowed again outbound travel in January. In 2023, passenger demand in RPKs is expected to grow by 59.8% compared to 8.9% in Europe or 6.4% in North America. Over the year, the region should reach 70.8% of pre-crisis demand levels with 75.5% of pre-crisis capacity.

IATA confirms 2022 was year of recovery for airlines around the world