The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced an upgrade to its outlook for the airline industry’s 2022 financial performance, as the pace of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis quickens.

The trade body said industry losses are expected to reduce to $9.7 billion, which is improved from the October 2021 forecast when an $11.6 billion loss was forecast. IATA said that was a “huge improvement” from losses of $137.7 billion in 2020 and $42.1 billion in 2021.

Industry-wide profitability

IATA said industry-wide profitability in 2023 was now within reach, with North America already expected to deliver an $8.8 billion profit in 2022.

Efficiency gains and improving yields are helping airlines to reduce losses, even with rising labour and fuel costs, the body said, in an update issued at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit, which is taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 19-21 June 2022.

Pent-up demand

Industry optimism and commitment to emissions reductions are evident in the expected net delivery of over 1,200 aircraft in 2022, the briefing added, while strong pent-up demand, the lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment in most countries, and expanded personal savings are fueling a resurgence in demand that will see passenger numbers reach 83 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

And 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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