The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that it will take another two years for air passenger counts to fully recover.
According to the International Air Transport Association, air passenger numbers will surpass 4 billion in 2024, up 103 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
“The trajectory for the recovery in passenger numbers from COVID-19 was not changed by the Omicron variant. People want to travel. And when travel restrictions are lifted, they return to the skies,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, announced in a press statement.
Walsh added: “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.”
Domestic and international aviation passenger counts in 2021 were 47% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
According to the International Air Transport Association, this will rise to 83 percent in 2022, 94 percent in 2023, 103 percent in 2024, and 111 percent in 2025.
Meanwhile, foreign passenger traffic was only 27% of what it was in 2019. This will rise to 69 percent in 2022, 82 percent in 2023, 92 percent in 2024, and 101 percent in 2025, according to projections.
“This is a slightly more hopeful near-term international recovery forecast than November 2021,” according to IATA, “based on the progressive relaxation or abolition of travel restrictions in numerous markets.”
The passenger traffic levels in North America and intra-European markets have improved.
Passenger traffic in North America will continue to operate well in 2022, with passenger numbers reaching 94% of pre-pandemic levels. North America, more than any other market, is likely to fully recover in 2023.
Because to “harmonized and restriction-free movement inside the EU,” the intra-European market is predicted to perform well in 2022.
According to IATA, the intra-European market will fully recover in 2024, with passenger numbers increasing by 105 percent above pre-crisis levels.
Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region is anticipated to lag behind in terms of recovery, owing to China’s tough travel restrictions.
“China is showing no signs of relaxing its zero-COVID strategy,” IATA announced in the statement.
Due to the gradual lifting of travel restrictions, Asia-Pacific international traffic is likely to fully recover in 2025, reaching 68 percent of pre-COVID levels in 2022, according to IATA.
Africa’s passenger traffic recovery is projected to be slow in the short term, owing to a long vaccination procedure and a lethargic economy.
In 2022, passenger numbers on the African continent will reach 79% of 2019 levels, exceeding them in 2025.
Meanwhile, passenger traffic in Latin America has remained resilient, owing to the region’s countries’ implementation of comparatively lax travel restrictions as well as “dynamic passenger flow” to North America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between 2023 and 2024, the region’s passenger traffic is predicted to fully recover, followed by Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, in that order.
The Middle East is predicted to recover completely by 2025, albeit at a slower pace than other regions.
“With limited short-haul markets, the Middle East focus on long-haul connectivity through its hubs is expected to result in slower recovery,” IATA predicts.