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Air Travel Sector May Not Fully Recover Until 2024

New estimates by the International Air Transport Association suggest airlines may not see pre-pandemic passenger levels until 2024.
For those hoping for a fast turnaround for the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association says a complete recovery may not take place for another two years.


In a press release, the organization says current analytics suggests carriers may not see pre-pandemic traveler numbers until 2024 at the earliest.


Domestic Travel Expected to Recover Faster Than International Fares

The new forecast for aviation recovery is based on the load factors from throughout 2021 and projections into the new year. Overall, the organization says passenger numbers were only 47% of 2019 but could start normalizing by the end of 2022. The projections call for 2022 global passenger loads to be 83% compared to 2019, and 94% in 2023.


As COVID-related restrictions ease, the group expects domestic travel to recover faster than international bookings. While domestic travel numbers for 2022 are projected to be 93% of pre-pandemic loads in 2023 and 103% against 2019 results in 2024, international traveler numbers compared to 2019 are only expected to increase to 69% by the end of 2022, and 82% in 2023. International travel may not resume to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.


“The trajectory for the recovery in passenger numbers from COVID-19 was not changed by the Omicron variant,” IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement. “People want to travel. And when travel restrictions are lifted, they return to the skies. There is still a long way to go to reach a normal state of affairs, but the forecast for the evolution in passenger numbers gives good reason to be optimistic.”


With recovery on the horizon, the trade group is calling on governments to end barriers related to COVID-19 testing and quarantine for fully vaccinated flyers, as well as pre-departure antigen tests for non-vaccinated travelers. The group also wants travel bans related to the pandemic to end immediately.


Despite Recovery Timeline, Airlines Continue to Face Staffing Issues

Even though flyers are coming back to the skies, airlines still say they are having a hard time finding employees who want to return to work. The Chicago Tribune reports United Airlines is offering signing bonuses up to $10,000 for airport workers in their home city, while Southwest Airlines is increasing starting pay to $18 per hour on certain jobs.

edgewood49 March 12, 2022

Iam not sure the mask mandate per se is the issue people have been flying with mask for years. While not a huge fan of the prospects of flying 10/14 hours wearing a mask it's not what is holding people back.  It's going to take time and stability  with the Coivd as well as  world geo politics which is leading us right into a recession how deep is anyone's guess. 

volabam March 7, 2022

If they keep extending the mask mandate, they're right.