In 2023, global air passenger traffic will return to pre-pandemic form

Air traffic is accelerating and expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. Global passenger traffic will return this year to its pre-health crisis activity, before exceeding 2019 activity at the end of 2023, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) estimated on Wednesday. This forecast assumes a further acceleration in air transport, after a year 2022 which saw attendance reach 74% of the volume recorded in 2019, the last full year before the arrival of Covid-19.

Passenger traffic had fallen by 60% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In 2021, it was still down 49% compared to 2019, according to the UN agency based in Montreal (Canada). ICAO predicts that “demand will quickly recover to pre-pandemic levels to most destinations during the first quarter” of 2023, according to a press release.

An increase in attendance

The agency estimates that by the end of the year attendance will be around 3% higher than 2019 figures. It sees it rising to 4% above that baseline year in 2024. The organization foresees a return to operating profitability (profit before tax and depreciation) for the sector in the last quarter of 2023, “after three consecutive years of losses”.

Many companies have already returned to profit, mainly thanks to the renewed appetite for tourism and air travel. A resurgence that marked price increases have not slowed down.

Regarding air freight, the ICAO expects a lesser increase than that of passenger traffic, “due to the slowdown in global growth”. In 2022, the transport of goods by air was equivalent to the volumes recorded in 2021.

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