The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that most international route groups will recover to pre-pandemic levels in the next six months. Global air transport seat capacity and total passengers are now at about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with passenger revenues at around 72 percent of their 2019 peak. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also informs that air cargo is close to its pre-COVID-19 numbers.
Both seating capacity and passenger numbers have increased significantly in recent months. Capacity has reached about 80 percent of its pre-pandemic levels, as air passenger traffic grew by 55 percent carried from January to August 2022, compared to the same period in 2021. Aircraft departures also grew by 28 percent and total seat capacity increased by 32 percent.
“The number of passenger aircraft in service during the analysis period improved by 34 percent compared to the same period last year, reflecting the overall recovery of traffic to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels,” said ICAO in a statement.
In addition, the number of cargo aircraft in service is 4 percent higher than its pre-pandemic baseline. IATA’s latest Air Cargo Levels analysis shows that “Air cargo is tracking at near 2019 levels although it has taken a step back compared to the extraordinary performance of 2020-2021. Volatility resulting from supply chain constraints and evolving economic conditions has seen cargo markets essentially move sideways since April,” said Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.
North American carriers showed a 5.7 percent decrease in cargo volumes in July 2022 compared to the same month in 2021, according to IATA. However, this was an improvement over June’s 13.5 percent decline. Cargo was in part helped by the lift of restrictions in China, which is expected to boost demand in the coming months. In Latin America, carriers reported an increase of 9.2 percent in cargo volumes in July 2022 compared to July 2021, which was the strongest performance of all regions. Capacity in July was up 21.4 percent compared to the same month in 2021.
Under these optimistic circumstances, ICAO will host delegates from 193 countries at its 41st General Assembly at the end of the month. In it, delegates are expected to reach new decisions pertaining to key innovation and resilience objectives that support greater sustainability and digitization of 21st-century air transport.