Time for optimism, says IATA

Written by: Samantha Payne |
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IATA has upgraded its outlook for the airline industry’s 2022 financial performance as the pace of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis quickens more than originally forecast.

Previously, IATA predicted passenger numbers would recover by 2024.

But strong pent-up demand, the lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment in most countries, and expanded personal savings are fuelling a resurgence in demand that will see passenger numbers reach 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and industry-wide profitability happening in 2023.

North America already expected to deliver an $8.8 billion profit in 2022 and losses are expected to reduce to -$9.7 billion (improved from the October 2021 forecast for an $11.6 billion loss) for a net loss margin of -1.2%. That is a huge improvement from losses of $137.7 billion (-36.0% net margin) in 2020 and $42.1 billion (-8.3% net margin) in 2021.

Efficiency gains and improving yields are helping airlines to reduce losses even with rising labour and fuel costs (the latter driven by a +40% increase in the world oil price and a widening crack spread this year).

Despite economic challenges, cargo volumes are expected to set a record high of 68.4 million tonnes in 2022.

“Airlines are resilient. People are flying in ever greater numbers. And cargo is performing well against a backdrop of growing economic uncertainty. Losses will be cut to $9.7 billion this year and profitability is on the horizon for 2023. It is a time for optimism, even if there are still challenges on costs, particularly fuel, and some lingering restrictions in a few key markets,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.


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