The Future of Air Travel: Will We Ever Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels? – Corpradar

The Future of Air Travel: Will We Ever Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels?


When will air travel return to pre-pandemic levels?

The global pandemic has had an impact on many industries, but air travel is likely to be one of the hardest hit.
The entire airline industry has lost an estimated $370 billion in global revenue due to COVID-19. And while air traffic is slowly recovering from the downturn, passenger traffic has yet to fully recover.

Where will the industry be in 2022 compared to pre-COVID, and when will air passenger numbers return to normal? This graphic by Julie R. Peasley uses IATA data to show current and projected air passenger numbers.

air travel data


Air transport: 2021 and 2022

After an incredibly difficult 2020, air transport has started to see a significant improvement in passenger numbers. But there is still a lot of work to do compared to pre-pandemic levels.
In 2021, the total number of passengers was only47% of the 2019 level. This inflow was largely driven by domestic travel, with international travelers at just 27% of pre-COVID levels. 


In 2022, overall passenger numbers reached 83% of 2019 levels. Image: Visual Capitalist

From a regional perspective, Central America’s recovery was one of the fastest. In 2021, the total number of passengers in the region reached 72% of the 2019 level and is expected to rise to 96% by the end of 2022.
In fact, America as a whole has recovered quickly. Both North America and South America reached more than 50% of 2019 passenger numbers in 2021 and are forecast to reach 94% and 88% in 2022, respectively.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Asia-Pacific region was the slowest to recover. This is probably due to the tighter lockdowns and travel restrictions in the region (which was more affected by SARS in 2003), especially in places like Shanghai.

Traffic forecast for 2023 and beyond

Although recovery will vary by region, airlines are expected to see a full recovery in passenger numbers by 2025.
This recovery reflects a much broader shift in thinking as governments continue to reassess their COVID-19 strategies.

passenger forecast
In 2025, the forecasted passengers are predicted to reach 111% of 2019 levels Image: Visual Capitalist

While the future looks promising, IATA emphasized that the forecast does not take into account the potential impact of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and other geopolitical issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the global economy (and tourism) in the near term.

Source: Visual Capital

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