Airline bosses predict air travel comeback

March 11, 2021
Both the President of Emirates and CEO of Air France-KLM foresee a sharp bounce-back of passenger demand, most probably by the third quarter of the year or latest by early 2022.

They may fight each other for market share, but for once, they both agree. The President of Emirates, Sir Tim Clark and the CEO of Air France-KLM, Ben Smith, see passengers returning by year end or in early 2022. Although both believe that numbers seen prior to the Covid crisis would not be possible before 2023.

“It hangs a lot on the global roll-out of vaccine programmes. Although some countries face difficulties in its implementation, I am quite bullish about the future,” said Tim Clark from Emirates.

The airline predicts that the pace of recovery will vary according to countries and market segments. Clark sees a stronger rebound of the leisure market than the corporate market. For Ben Smith, 2021 will be characterised by a number of uncertainties although they are a few positive hot spots: “Beyond 2021, a lot of demand from consumers willing to travel will need to be answered.

For Smith, the first segment to return to the skies will be VFR travellers, followed by leisure and then corporate travellers. “The latter will need probably three to four years to be back to 2019 levels,” Smith stressed.

Airline bosses predict air travel comeback
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airlines

Photo: top of the page : Ben Smith – CEO – Air France – KLM