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Air Travel Forecast: When Will Airlines Recover from Covid-19?

The latest Covid-19 surge, fueled by the Omicron variant, is likely to weaken global air traffic in the first quarter of the year.

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Air Travel Forecast: When Will Airlines Recover from Covid-19?
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In May 2020, we began making regular forecasts of how soon aviation demand would recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, based on several potential scenarios and the latest information.

Here are the latest developments as of December 2021.

  • The rapid spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant will likely stall the travel recovery, which had been proceeding better than expected in key geographic markets. We’re now projecting global airline revenue for 2022 to reach $458 billion in the baseline recovery scenario (see panel 1 above). That would be a much higher annual revenue total than each of the past two years, but would still fall short of prepandemic levels, representing 69% of 2019’s revenue. Nevertheless, by the end of the year, global air travel demand could recover to 84% of 2019 levels in the baseline scenario and as high as 95% in our most optimistic scenario (see panel 2).
  • One of the bright spots has been North American intraregional travel. It saw strong recovery in recent months and is projected to finish 2022 with demand at 92% of 2019 levels, despite slower projected growth (see panel 3).

Projected market and financial information, analyses, and conclusions are based (unless sourced otherwise) on external information and Bain & Company’s judgment. They are intended as a guide only and should not be construed as definitive forecasts or guarantees of future performance or results. No responsibility or liability whatsoever is accepted by any person, including Bain & Company, Inc. or its affiliates and their respective officers, employees, or agents, for any errors or omissions.

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