The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 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 forecast was released at the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting & World Air Transport Summit in Doha, Qatar (June 19-21). Forecast highlights include:

  • Industry losses are expected to decrease to a 2022 loss of $9.7 billion (improved from the October 2021 forecast for an $11.6 billion loss). That represents a significant improvement from losses of $137.7 billion in 2020 and $42.1 billion in 2021.
  • Industrywide profitability in 2023 appears within reach, with North America already expected to deliver an $8.8 billion profit in 2022.
  • Efficiency gains and improving yields are helping airlines reduce losses even with rising labor and fuel costs.
  • Industry optimism and commitment to emissions reductions are evident in the expected net delivery of over 1,200 aircraft in 2022.
  • North America is expected to continue to be the strongest-performing region and the only region to return to profitability in 2022. Supported by the large US domestic market and the reopening of international markets, including the North Atlantic, net profit is forecast to be $8.8 billion in 2022. Demand in revenue passenger kilometers is expected to reach 95% of pre-crisis (2019) levels, and capacity 99.5%.
Strong pent-up demand, the lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment in most countries, and expanded personal savings, according to the forecast, are fueling a resurgence in demand that will see passenger numbers reach 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Willie Walsh, director general, said “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.”
The forecast also cited a number of risk factors, including war in Ukraine; inflation, interest rates and exchange rates; possibility of resumption of COVID-19 restrictions; and China’s continuing lockdowns because of COVID-19.